Monday night lights: Photographer captures stunning northern lights in Nanaimo

Monday night lights: Photographer captures stunning northern lights in Nanaimo
Sean Holroyd
Northern lights are seen from Pipers Lagoon Park in Nanaimo.

Many people stayed up late Monday night to watch the northern lights across western Canada including on Vancouver Island.

The night did not disappoint.

Nanaimo resident Sean Holroyd captured several images of the northern lights from Piper’s Lagoon Park shortly before midnight.

The 35-year-old man, who’s been a photographer for six years, says he’s seen aurora borealis before — but never like last night from Nanaimo.

In a post to social media, Holroyd says he raced home to grab his camera after working a 12-hour shift in hopes of catching the phenomenon. He was rewarded with a dazzling display.

“I was amazed at how visible the display was. To the north, there was a massive green glow with pillars of light dancing and shooting up into the sky,” he said.

Holroyd’s favourite shot of the night? A 15-second exposure taken on his Nikon d850 with a wide-angle lens.

The northern lights made headlines all around B.C. and Alberta, and were even visible in the dense and light-polluted cities of Calgary and Edmonton.

Actor Pedro Pascal, who is shooting a project in Alberta’s capital city, was taken aback by the glowing green lights.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pedro Pascal he/him (@pascalispunk)

Northern lights are caused by collisions between electrons from space and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in Earth’s atmosphere.

As the electrons rain into the atmosphere, they impart energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules, making them excited. When the molecules return to their normal state, they release photons, small bursts of energy in the form of light.

When billions of these collisions occur and enough photons are released, the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere emit enough light for the eye to detect them. This is only visible at night as the aurora is dimmer in sunlight.  The colour of the aurora depends on which gas is being excited by the electrons and how much energy is being exchanged.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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