Talk about dancing with the stars: The glow of the northern lights danced through the night sky this week, thanks to a solar storm that swept past Earth over the past few days. Comet PanSTARRS, which is appearing a little bit farther north in western skies every evening, adds some extra sparkle.
The time around the equinox is considered the peak of the aurora season, because this time of year strikes a balance between the dark skies of winter and the more clement temperatures of summer. And although PanSTARRS may not have panned out the way some of the more optimistic skywatchers might have expected, it's still observable in the Northern Hemisphere — particularly if you're watching with binoculars from a vantage point far from city lights, with a clear view to the western horizon.
For example, French photographer Sylvain Dussans managed to capture both phenomena in one glorious picture, taken from Norway's Senja Island.
Here are a couple more videos of the solar storm and the comet, as seen from Earth and space:
More about the comet and the aurora:
- Double delight in the skies above
- How to get the most out of PanSTARRS
- Cosmic Log archive for auroras and comets
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 and the rest of NBCNews.com's science and space coverage, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.