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For the past three years, members of a Facebook group called the Alberta Aurora Chasers, consisting of photographers who exchange tips and images of the famed northern lights, have been capturing images of a gorgeous arc of light across the sky. The arc can be seen streaking across the northern sky typically in mid-latitude location like Calgary or Edmonton. It has a distinctive purplish or greenish color, and sometimes looks braided like a helix.

The group initially mistook the glowing ribbon of purple and green light as an airplane contrail. It was only when experimenting with their camera settings, like slow shutter speeds, and photo editing software to improve the color saturation, did they realize that the arc of light was self illuminated, unlike condensation trails from airplanes that are lit from light sources on the ground.


Meet Steve, a stream of hot, fast-moving gas, glowing over Porteau Cove Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada, in May 2016. Photo credit: Vanexus Photography

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