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Farewell to the northern lights

Thorbjørn Haagensen

Thorbjørn Haagensen took this picture of the northern lights on April 3 from Hillesøy, close to Tromsø in northern Norway.




A stunning aurora season is finally coming to an end in the far north, thanks to the longer days and the shorter nights. But there were still a few opportunities this week for the northern lights to ripple across the sky in a "last dance," as this picture from Norwegian photographer Thorbjørn Riise Haagensen shows.

"Beginning in the middle of May, the midnight sun brings sunshine all night long," Haagensen told SpaceWeather.com today. "Already some daylight is visible at the horizon at midnight. There is still enough darkness, though, for the last dance of the auroras."


Haagensen's photograph shows the aurora's glow in northern Norway; click on over to his Haagensenfoto.no website for more of his pictures, including an aurora gallery. Speaking of galleries, SpaceWeather.com offers some thrilling pictures from Minnesota and northern Quebec as well as Norway.

Here's a time-lapse movie of the northern lights' last dance that was captured by Jan R. Olsen, a photographer who lives in Olderdalen, Norway. "Not many days left with the aurora," he wrote. "This was shot on the night of April 2nd. Soon it will be too light in the night to see the aurora."

Even though the northern lights may be on the wane, the southern lights should be hitting their prime — and the people in the best position to see the show in the south are the astronauts on the International Space Station. Keep an eye on the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth for shots of the aurora australis from space.

Earlier stories of auroral glories:


Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter or adding Cosmic Log's Google+ page to your circle. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for other worlds.