Bothwell woman gets experience of a lifetime witnessing natural wonder

Northern Lights outside Newbury. (Photo via Joanna from Bothwell) March 23, 2023.

A Bothwell woman is thanking her lucky stars for checking off an important item off her bucket list.

Joanna, who didn’t want her last name used, told CK News Today that seeing the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis so far south Thursday night at around 11 p.m. just outside of Newbury was a bucket list moment achieved.

“It’s actually been on my bucket list for a very long time. Last month I was even looking at flights out to Manitoba hoping that we might get lucky and catch them out there, but I ended up seeing them close to home instead,” said Joanna.

Joanna said she was completely taken by surprise to see such a rare southwestern Ontario sighting of the Northern Lights on her way home.

“Captivating, it was just the beauty of it. We stopped on the side of the road and our mouths dropped just taking it all in. It was captivating and breathtaking, the fact that we may never get this chance to see this, especially on our side of Ontario,” she said.

Joanna said the sighting was phenomenal, amazing, and filled her heart with joy.

“Made a trip out to Banff, Lake Louise in 2021 and found a lot of inner peace. So, since then, I’ve been chasing and checking things off on my bucket list and that being one of them was fantastic,” Joanna added.

She added seeing the Northern Lights up close also gave her a deeper appreciation for how beautiful our planet is.

There were several sightings of the Northern Lights reported dancing across southern Ontario skies on Thursday night.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can be seen further south when space weather activity increases and more frequent and larger storms and sub-storms occur.

Northern Lights are the result of accelerated electrons following Earth’s magnetic field to the poles and colliding with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere, according to NOAA.

“In these collisions, the electrons transfer their energy to the atmosphere thus exciting the atoms and molecules to higher energy states. When they relax back down to lower energy states, they release their energy in the form of light. This is similar to how a neon light works,” said NOAA.

NOAA reported a major magnetic storm Thursday night and said during major geomagnetic storms the aurora ovals expand away from the poles so much that aurora can be seen over most of the United States.

The aurora typically forms 80 to 500 kilometres above Earth’s surface.