Solar storms produce Downeast lightshow

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — Strong solar storms on Monday set off a chain of events leading to one of the strongest displays of the Aurora Borealis over the Northern Hemisphere on Monday night.

For a handful of visitors atop Cadillac Mountain, the tallest point within 50 miles of the ocean from Maine to Rio De Janeiro, the Northern Lights appeared as a series of pale patches of light and streaks above Bar Harbor and Frenchman’s Bay.

The lights moved almost imperceptibly behind patchy clouds. The light show appears when charged particles ejected during solar storms on the sun are captured in the Earth’s magnetic field. These particles are pulled towards the poles and cause gases in the upper atmosphere to fluoresce and glow, similar to what happens in a neon light.

In the Southern Hemisphere the display is call the Aurora Australis.

Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.