Big peak, pink skies: Mount Wilson Observatory shared some awesome aurora photos

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

What to KnowMuch of the nation, including parts of California, was treated to a rare Northern Lights display on May 10 and the early hours of May 11 due to several “coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun” per NOAAMount Wilson Observatory above Pasadena shared memorable photos and video of the atmospheric eventImportant: The observatory’s grounds are not open late, so those people hoping to come up for a possible second night of lights should find other locations

Mount Wilson Observatory is the name you often hear when astronomical milestones are described, such as the building of mega, majorly powerful telescopes or the discoveries of extremely distant nebulae and stars.

Sometimes, you’ll be looking back decades, or even a century while marveling at all that’s gone down at the look-up bastion of astronomy, a mountaintop landmark that has sat serenely above Pasadena for more than a century.

But wonders, of course, happen in real-time, and on the evening of May 10, and the early hours of May 11, people who had never seen the Northern Lights were getting their first fantastical taste of what the otherworldly atmospheric event could so dazzlingly deliver.

A pink-purple sky, seen above the clouds at Mount Wilson Observatory (Patricia Hill)

Few Southern Californians enjoyed the hue-drenched event, even as people just hours away in Mammoth Lakes and Joshua Tree were posting eye-popping pictures. But up on Mount Wilson, where the observatory is located?

The horizon boasted some ethereal pink panache, with plenty of purple to make the whole sight even more epic.

A time-lapse video taken from Mount Wilson also showed the Northern Lights above the Southern California clouds.

“The strong geomagnetic storm reaches Earth, continues through weekend” is the word from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meaning that the next night or two could again deliver some incredible skies, depending on where you’re located, the weather, and other conditions.

A May 10 statement described what sky-watchers, and astronomy enthusiasts, should expect: “NOAA space weather forecasters have observed at least seven coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun, with impacts expected to arrive on Earth as early as midday Friday, May 10, and persist through Sunday, May 12, 2024.”

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A time-lapse video taken at Mount Wilson Observatory (Hans-Werner Braun and HP Wren cameras, a UC San Diego project)

“Additional solar eruptions could cause geomagnetic storm conditions to persist through the weekend,” advised the administration.

Important to note? The grounds of Mount Wilson Observatory are closed to the public late in the evening; the observatory’s staff is kindly asking people to find another spot to watch for any continuing signs of the geomagnetic storm and resulting Northern Lights.

Wherever you head in hopes for one more night of this rare-for-our-region event, do check with CalTrans to make sure the roads you intend to use are open.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.