A second showing of the Northern Lights in Alabama did not materialize Saturday night. The latest watch from the Space Weather Prediction Center is that the phenomenon can reappear on Sunday, May 12—a late Mother’s Day light show.

Alabama gazers had enjoyed a rare view of the Aurora Borealis Friday night all the way to the Gulf Coast. A second showing was possible Saturday night, but the G4-5 solar storm of Friday reduced to a G3, and no sighting of the lights were reported. Now, the solar flares are predicted to return to the G4-5 level for a final time on Sunday.

You will likely get that second chance Sunday night to see the Northern Lights.

Astronomers think the solar flares peaked early Saturday morning after midnight, but the flares are still active and could produce the light show over Alabama again Sunday night.

What Alabama folks saw late night Friday, May 10, into the early morning of May 11 was a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon – or twice in a lifetime if it reappears Sunday night. It hasn’t occurred to the extent that we witnessed Friday night in our lifetimes – and won’t again.

The 2024 Northern Lights were much more pronounced and did not go as predicted. What experts had expected to be a strong G4 solar storm ended up a stronger G5.

Alabama folks from The Shoals of northwest Alabama to Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island on the Alabama Gulf Coast posted photos of the local Northern Lights on social media.

Some Alabama observers expressed disappointment, seeing only a pinkish sky or nothing. Others pointed out to them that viewing can be better using a newer cell phone adjusted to night mode and other adjustments. A new and properly adjusted cell phone can pick up more light than the naked eye.

The Geomagnetic Storm Watch for Sunday:

Picture1 Alabama News
Geomagnetic Watch. NOAA

Tips from pro photographer Jimmy Reynolds Jr. of Sylacauga:

Quick aurora photography tips: 1-Have a clear view towards the sunset and/or to the right of it (toward north), 2-set your phone’s camera to night mode and HOLD IT STEADY (10 seconds is more than enough), 3-shoot with a one-to-one ratio (.5 may not let enough light in), 4-try to have trees or buildings in at least part of the picture for scale & reference, and lastly, even if you don’t see anything try it, you might be surprised!

The Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, are a harmless light show, nature’s fireworks. They are usually seen at northern latitudes during sunspot storms, such as in Canada, Alaska, and some northern states.

The solar storms could potentially disrupt “communications, the electric power grid, navigation, radio and satellite operations.”

The May 10-12 storms are the most powerful geomagnetic storms in six years.

Will the Northern Lights need a new name since they have extended into Alabama all the way to its southern shore?

Stars fell on Alabama. 

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at ZeiglerElderCare@yahoo.com.

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