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Aurora sets stage for meteor show

Chad Blakley

The green glow of the aurora seems to stretch from horizon to horizon in Chad Blakley's photo from Sweden's Abisko National Park.

Tonight is prime time for the Geminid meteor shower, but there's another kind of spectacle that skywatchers are seeing up north: auroral displays in the Christmas colors of green and red.

The green glow you see above was captured on camera last week by Chad Blakley, the photographer behind Lights Over Lapland in Sweden. "It's aurora season in Abisko National Park," he writes. Blakley runs nightly photo tours in the park when the northern lights are active. To see more of his work, visit the Lights Over Lapland website or Facebook page.

National Geographic photographer Mike Theiss has also been getting some amazing auroral views, thanks to a photo assignment that took him to Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon Territory. Theiss rented a car and drove hundreds of miles farther north to the Arctic Circle. He's been using his Twitter account (@MikeTheiss) to share a series of pictures from his Arctic adventure — including an amazing shot that shows a meteor streak shooting through the auroral lights. You can see that picture below.


We're also including a Christmas bonus: Time-lapse videos from Vimeo and YouTube that incorporate Blakley's and Theiss' pictures. If you're able to, watch them full screen with HD resolution.

For more of Theiss' work, check out UltimateChase.com or Douglas Main's story at OurAmazingPlanet. And if you're a fan of the northern lights or meteor showers, you'll want to click through SpaceWeather.com's photo galleries as well.

Tonight's early reports suggest that this year's Geminid display is shaping up as a great show. If you snap a picture of the meteors  — or the northern lights, for that matter — please consider sharing it with us via NBC News' FirstPerson photo upload page for sky highlights. If I get enough pictures, I'll pass them along on Friday.

Mike Theiss / National Geographic

Mike Theiss' picture from Canada's Yukon Territory features ripples of the northern lights - plus a meteor streak that can be seen on the right side.

Mike Theiss' time-lapse video of the northern lights includes the Arctic Circle marker in the foreground.

More auroral glories:

Today's pictures also provide a different twist on the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which usually features a daily view of Earth from space during the holiday season. Today, we're highlighting views of space from Earth. To catch up on past calendar entries, follow the links below:


Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other science and space news coverage, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered via email. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.