You may think this image of the northern lights was taken in Canada or Alaska, but would you believe it if I said it were in Alabama? Probably not, after all, they're called the northern lights for a reason. But on Monday night, states as far south as Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama reported seeing the aurora borealis stream across their sky.
Take a look at this footage shot by Brian Emfinger in Ozark, Arkansas:
Officials at the federal Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., said they were surprised at the southern reach. The center monitors solar storms, which trigger auroras.
Space weather forecast chief Bob Rutledge said given the size of the solar storm that occurred last night, the lights probably shouldn't have been visible south of Iowa. Rutledge said the storm was unusual, its effects reaching Earth faster than forecast.
According to How Stuff Works, the northern lights are caused by by solar create winds that kick up electrons that then react in Earth's atmosphere. It takes about 40 hours after wind, created by a burst from the sun, reaches Earth to cause the reaction. The auroras are usually seen closer to Earth's magnetic poles, but when there are more sun spots, as were predicted for this year and into 2012, the lights are often seen farther south.
The Huffington Post reports the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center as stating that timing of the solar storm and cloudless skies contributing to the rare viewing in southern states.
The storm caused no damage to technology as it sometimes does.
Want to see more northern lights? Check out this article from The Blaze, which includes video taken of the lights from the International Space Station.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.