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Take a minute to spend the night with northern lights

One look at's aurora gallery will tell you that February has been a very good month for auroral displays in northern latitudes, and an upswing in solar activity promises more to come.

One of the hot spots is Sweden's Abisko National Park, which is the favorite hangout for Chad Blakley of Lights Over Lapland. "We have seen powerful auroras in the sky above Abisko for 13 nights in a row, and it looks like there are more to come!" he wrote in an email Tuesday. "Last night I witnessed one of the finest aurora displays I have seen in many months. February 2013 is turning out to be one of the best months for aurora watching I have ever seen!"

You can get a sense of how Blakley's nights have been going by taking a minute to watch Blakley's time-lapse video below. But don't stop there: I'm also including a time-lapse from Helge Mortensen, a photographer based in Tromso, Norway, and from Oli Haukur and the OZZO Photography team in Iceland.

Scandinavia, Alaska and northern Canada are all hot spots for the northern lights this time of year, even though it gets chilly at night. The auroral displays might dip farther south if we get a nice geomagnetic storm coming our way, and the solar weather outlook suggests that could happen. A new sunspot region known as AR 1678 has cropped up, and says this region could give rise to "a significant solar flare."

Check out the usual places for space weather updates, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center as well as the center's Facebook page and its Ovation aurora forecast chart. You'll also want to keep tabs on the Canadian Space Agency's AuroraMAX website — and the Lights Over Lapland Facebook page, where you'll find an awesome image of the aurora glowing beside a moon halo.

More auroral glories:

Alan Boyle is'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's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.