Astronomy Picture of the Day: Proton Arc over Lake Superior

Written by on December 20, 2015 in Earth & Space, Environment, Science with 21 Comments

Proton Arc over Lake Superior CN

By Iain Buchanan |GeekPower

Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is one of the most beautiful I have seen, especially considering that it was taken here, on earth and was a fluke image taken in a 15 minute window of opportunity!

Taken on the banks of Lake Superior in Michigan you can see the warm glow of the lights of Marquette, the local city, offset by the ethereal green glow of the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.

Related Article: Lose Yourself In This Stunning Aurora Borealis Time-Lapse Video

What makes this image super special though, despite the inherent beauty of it’s composition, is the long red streak called a Proton Arc, bisecting the night sky and offering a natural boundary between the lights of man and the lights of the cosmos. Magical!

Related Article: Earth and Space Weather News Sept 15, 2014: New Ice Record, Aurora Borealis, Proton Spikes

A Proton Arc is a very rare type of Aurora formed when much heavier protons have been ejected from a solar event and interact with particles in our upper atmosphere, charging them and creating the beautiful and contrasting red streak you see above, captured by a 30 second exposure and framed perfectly by the astronomy photographer Ken Williams.

Ken had chosen this spot before and was waiting diligently for the Aurora to show, as soon as it did he headed to lake Superior which is several hours away from his home.

Related Article: Seeing Beauty and Experiencing Awe Inspires Spirituality

As soon as Ken got there and set-up his lights and Camera the Proton Arc appeared, giving him just 15 minutes to capture the amazing shot you see above.

Image Credit & Copyright: Ken Williams Via APOD

See the original article and more here….

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21 Reader Comments

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  1.' Patricia Cope says:


  2.' Pamela Boyd says:


  3.' Terry Kostiuk says:

    Amazingly beautiful!

  4.' Charlene Bragg says:

    This is so beautiful

  5.' Laura Asselin Puckett says:

    Very pretty

  6.' Leayza Sta Maria Carreon says:


  7.' Salvador Nonog says:

    An aurora in Lake Superior??!!!..
    is that normal??!!!

  8.' Felicia Orfanos says:

    I have seen this over the northern coast of California and it was beautiful.

  9.' Nana Dit says:


  10.' Jennifer Hoffman says:

    Timothy Hoffman

  11.' Salvador Nonog says:

    Auroras are only normal in the polar regions… isn’t it??!!
    that gave me creeps!..
    maybe the esrth polarity is really about to flip!..

  12.' Ruth Bleacher says:

    Mother nature is a master artist !

  13.' Joshuahn Jackstonburg says:

    Proton or photon?

  14.' Pinky Deb says:

    Nice natural

  15.' Connor Stevens says:

    im probably wrong but isnt the aurora borealis made of photons not protons? they get confused all the time, protons make up part of an atom, photons are molecules of light

  16.' Susan D. McLean says:

    aurora are normal in northern states!! I’ve seen them in Michigan, North Dakota, Montana!

  17.' Robert William Caldwell says:

    Caroline Caldwell

  18.' Edward Bowen says:

    Inez! Nice kaayo oh!

  19.' Patricia Briggs says:

    Amazing!!! Thanks for this!

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