March 17, 2015 12:17 pm
Updated: March 18, 2015 11:36 am

Incredible photos of the northern lights as they kick off St. Patrick’s Day

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ABOVE: Dramatic footage emerged online on Wednesday of beautiful lights in the sky filmed during a severe solar storm which hit Earth on Tuesday

TORONTO — The sun decided to give Earth a St. Patrick’s Day celebration of its own — and the festivities could go on into tonight.

Several coronal mass ejections (CME) that were expected to reach Earth over the weekend were a little late. But better late than never.

The northern lights west of Edam, Saskatchewan on March 17, 2015.

Courtesy Kathy Sarich

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The skies lit up with dazzling colours — but especially green.

Beautiful aurorae dance across northern Calgary on March 17, 2015.

Courtesy Matt Melnyk

Photographer Matt Melnyk took this photo in the Sage Hill area of Calgary, Alberta, on March 17, 2015.

Courtesy Matt Melnyk

Green is the most common colour seen in the northern lights, or aurora borealis. The colour occurs as particles from the sun interact with oxygen molecules about 96 km above Earth. Red is produced by oxygen as well, but at an altitude of about 320 km.

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Around 11:30 EDT Tuesday morning, the Kp index which measures the magnetic strength, reached an eight — the highest it’s been in years. It produced an amazing and powerful geomagnetic storm. Though it’s unlikely the storm will last at that strength until darkness arrives across Canada, there’s the chance that it could still be elevated. So tonight you might want to go out and give it a shot.

Many people from across Canada were lucky enough to catch the dazzling display before it peaked Tuesday morning, even in Vancouver.

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But nobody had a better view than the astronauts on board the International Space Station.

The northern lights,  even reached into the northern United States, which isn’t very common.

So, hopefully we’ll have the luck of the Irish and the storm will last until after the sun sets tonight. Try to catch them if you can.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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