In October 2003, there was a massive release of energy from our sun. The resulting coronal mass ejection (CME) headed straight for our planet, bombarding it with a massive amount of charged particles. The official classification for the flare was an X17.2, which is one of the top three recorded solar flares in the history of our planet.

X17 Solar Flare

Photo from here

The charged particles disrupted satellite communications in space, and also lead to auroras being seen as far south as the Chicago. I was fortunate enough to be following the activity while it was happening, and was notified via email (via SpaceWeather.com) that auroras might be visible at low latitudes.

At around 4am, I walked upstairs to my rooftop patio in Kitsilano, only to be greeted with one of the most amazing light shows I’ve ever seen.

Northern Lights In Vancouver

The Aurora In Vancouver, October 2003

I was one of the few people who managed to see the entire sky over Vancouver lit up in a glorious array of red and green hues that night. Despite only having a little digital camera at the time, I managed to capture a few shots, several of which ended up on Nasa’s website and local television stations. It was a really exciting event, and one of my fondest memories of my time living in Kitsilano.

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