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The Pink Sky Over East Texas and Why It Was That Color?

The pink sky over East Texas was caused by the Aurora Borealis
The pink Sky over East Texas

Did you see it or miss it? The pink sky over East Texas.

On May 10, 2024, between 11:30 pm and 3 am, a rare occurrence happened in the skies over East Texas. The sky turned into a fantastic light show. Barely visible for most of the night, they would fade in and out, and unless you stayed outside for at least an hour of the three-and-a-half-hour show, you may have missed it completely. The Aurora Borealis caused this rare sight in East Texas. We have all seen pictures of this phenomenon that rarely is seen below the northernmost states; the blue and green curtains of light are on many of our "bucket lists." We rarely see them in the South, but we got lucky this time. But why were ours primarily pink and red? To understand the color of our aurora, we must first understand the science.

Solar Storms

The sun constantly produces and sends energy in electrified particles (primarily protons and neutrons) Out into space as it spins. These are called the solar wind; some of that solar wind heads straight for the Earth. Our Earth's magnetic shield protects us from this solar wind. However, once in a while, the sun "burps" a considerable amount of these particles right at us. These are called Coronal Mass Ejections (CME). The CME is usually harmless, but the more intense ones can cause amazing auroras. These auroras are typically seen in the Northernmost parts of the Earth and the very southern parts of the Earth.

The CME last week caused a G4 to G5 solar storm; not only did it make the normal Auroa Borealis more intense, but in a rare performance, it could be seen as far as Florida!

The colors of the Aurora Borealis

Most Auroras are green or blue-green, and some are a mix of purple, pink, and red. Most people who captured the aurora over East Texas caught the red spectrum ranging from magenta to purple to deep red.

The aurora color is based on the gas in the atmosphere that it interacts with.

Green-charged particles interact with oxygen gas.

Blue/purple-charged particles collide with Nitrogen and helium.

Pink/Red- charged particles collide with Nitrogen and oxygen higher in the atmosphere.

The further you go out from the poles, the more collisions happen higher in the atmosphere. Thus, Texas was blessed with mostly red and pink. I did capture some green, although I had to use my night vision.

The pink sky over East Texas showed some green at times
The pink sky over East Texas showed some green at times

Hopefully, we will get to see them again. It is pretty rare and absolutely wonderful to witness! It did make the internet a little slower but did not harm electronics, which is a risk with solar storms. Until then, keep your eyes in the skies over Texas, you never know what you might see.


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