Shapeshifting Northern Lights Dance Over Alaska in Amazing Photos

by Nina Sen, Contributor

Dazzling auroras over Alaska take center stage in these spellbinding images captured this month by an amateur astronomer.

Photographer LeRoy Zimmerman took these stunning panoramic images of the northern lights near Fairbanks, Alaska, on Dec. 7. He snapped about 500 shots in half an hour, two-second exposures taken every three seconds, using a Canon 6D camera.

"Never had to move the camera once," He wrote in an email. "The aurora band sat in place overhead and put on a show.  “It was the only aurora in the sky." [100 Greatest Night Sky Photos of 2013]

The northern lights are triggered by charged particles from the sun (the solar wind) that interact with Earth's upper atmosphere. Earth’s magnetic field draws these particles to either the North or South Pole, resulting in aurora borealis, or northern lights, and its southern counterpart the aurora australis, or southern lights.

To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at

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