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Stunning light show captured

Staff writers
April 24, 2012 — A group of storm chasers captured this video of an absolutely amazing light show in Minnesota Tuesday morning.

Bright Northern Lights captured in Kaministiquia, Ontario early Tuesday
Bright Northern Lights captured in Kaministiquia, Ontario early Tuesday

Purple and gold lit up the early morning sky in Minnesota on Tuesday. The video was taken by a group that's usually chasing tornadoes, so this probably made a nice change of pace for the team.

Clear conditions across parts of Canada early Tuesday enabled some sky watchers to enjoy the stunning light show as well.

While most people know what the Northern Lights look like, not every knows how they are created.

"Some people think that the Northern Lights are some kind of light that reflects off the polar ice caps. This is not true," says astronomer Andrew Yee. "Northern Lights are actually related to activity on the sun."

The sun frequently generates energy as visible light, but it also releases energy in other forms of radiation -- like x-ray or energetically-charged particles.

"These particles carry energy away from the sun, and when they slam into the Earth's atmosphere, they collide with the atoms in the upper atmosphere and deposit energy to those atoms," says Yee. "But that's not where the atoms prefer to stay. They prefer to go to the lowest energy state, and so eventually they release the excess amount of energy in a form of light -- so we see that as Northern Lights."

With files from CNN

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