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What a photographic hat trick: Stars, lightning, and the Northern Lights

What a photographic hat trick: Stars, lightning, and the Northern Lights
"Stars, Lightning, and the Northern Lights" ©Gary Meulemans

The Puget Sound area was treated to a double-dose of rare events Sunday night: The Northern Lights and thunderstorms.

I was hoping that maybe we could get a picture of the two together, which is sort of like asking Sasquatch to pose with the Loch Ness Monster, but no luck, as the thunderstorms stayed to the south of Seattle while the aurora were mainly a north-of-Seattle event, and a weak one at that.

But in Wisconsin, the two managed to share the sky together. In fact, for photographer Gary Meulemans (@anakin1814), not only did he get both the aurora and a lightning bolt this weekend, he got the Big Dipper and Milky Way in the shot for good measure!

"The universe decided to put on an amazing display of lightning, intense aurora borealis activity, a very bright Big Dipper, and even a glimpse of the Milky Way," Meulemans wrote on his Flickr page.

This photo was taken around 10:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday night and has since gone viral -- he estimates it's been viewed more than 200,000 times so far.

"The northern lights got much more intense late into the night," he said. "I wanted to capture the beginning of the northern lights (the green band you see on the horizon behind the clouds), and the lightning you see on the horizon. The orange city glow you see on the horizon is actually Marinette, WI."

Now you think a shot like that would come from a veteran, which he certainly is for northern lights. But for lightning?

"This is my first time photographing lightning, and I couldn't be more pleased," he wrote. "There were actually fire works going off to the right as well, but I decided stars, northern lights, and lightning was enough for this shot."

And what an amazing shot it was!

Meulemans is posting a different picture each day for this year as part of a project featuring Wisconsin scenery, if you're interested. His Sunday photo featured more Northern Lights.