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'I was just stunned': Seeing the northern lights was a bucket list sighting for people in Windsor-Essex


As a fan of all things astronomy, Zeel Parmar has long dreamt of flying to Alaska to witness the northern lights with her own eyes — so she was shocked to find the colours of the aurora borealis shimmering over the skies of Windsor, Ont. late Friday night.

Parmar, 27, moved to Windsor last year after previously living in India and Italy.

"I remember telling my husband that the clouds look like they are emitting some kind of fiery glow," said Parmar, who said she started to see the colours of the northern lights just after 9:30 p.m. Friday.

"I was just stunned,” she said. “I was like a little baby with teary eyes. I couldn't believe this is happening in Windsor."

From Friday night into early Saturday morning, the aurora borealis illuminated skies across the country, providing a stunning celestial display for lucky observers.

Experts said this marked the most powerful geomagnetic storm in the past 20 years.

Referred to as the "aurora borealis" in the northern hemisphere, the phenomenon of lights dancing in the night sky results from a solar material explosion.

As millions of people did across the country, Parmar immediately pulled out her camera upon witnessing the lights.

"Being a photographer, of course, that's the first thing I would do," she said. "With all the light pollution in Windsor, I don't know how it was so visible. It seemed like it was right above our head."

But not everyone was so lucky to witness the lights however.

One simple reason for why, according to CTV News' Science and Technology Specialist Dan Riskin, was simply the time at which the lights were visible.

"A lot of people missed this because they were sleeping and they'll be forgiven. I like to try and get to bed at an early hour so even I missed a lot of it," said Riskin.

For many people living away from shoreline areas, it's likely they were unable to see the northern lights because of light pollution.

"It might be that you don't really notice the light pollution on a day-to-day basis. Maybe it's the city. Maybe it's agricultural areas that are growing things in a greenhouse which are giving off a ton of light," said Riskin. "Those can really interfere with your ability to see the northern lights. They can become quite faint."

But if you've noticed that most northern lights photos on social media are taken from places near the shore -- such as Puce, Belle River or Leamington -- Riskin explained that being close to large bodies of water doesn't really change how strong the northern lights are.

"It really has to do with how high up you are on the globe, how close you are to the North Pole or South Pole and if those particles are hitting when it's dark, because a lot of the particles hit when the sun's out, and then nobody sees anything," he said.

Todd Shearon, who teaches in Windsor, was one of the lucky ones who saw the northern lights Friday night.

"It was beautiful and magnificent," said Shearon. "I didn't have to travel to the Northwest Territories to see it, so that's cool."

As for Parmar, she said seeing the aurora borealis from Windsor checked an item off her bucket list — but she still plans on seeing the northern lights in Alaska with her husband one day.

"I'm not yet done with this dream," said Parmar. Top Stories

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