‘Burst’ of northern lights activity creates eye-catching celestial show in Manitoba skies

The northern lights illuminated skies throughout Manitoba Sunday night, creating a dazzling show for sky gazers across the province.

Manitoba Museum planetarium astronomer Scott Young told CTV News Winnipeg the northern lights were vivid through many parts of Manitoba, even stretching into central and southern portions of the United States on Sunday night.

Photos from CTV viewers flooded our inbox showing an array of aurora from Flin Flon to Cross Lake to Russell, Man.

“There were a lot of great spots across the province that had these beautiful shows, and it’s all because of what’s going on on the sun,” Young said.

According to the astronomer, when there’s a burst of activity on the sun, that energy eventually arrives on earth and interacts with its atmosphere, causing the northern lights.

The northern lights are shown over Setting Lake, Man. on April 23, 2023. (Source: Shirley Sim)

Young said it’s hard to predict when northern lights will be most visible, and generally arrive in bursts for a few hours at a time before returning to their lower level.

“We had about an hour’s warning for last night’s show pretty much that it was actually going to happen,” he recalled.

“So the best way to see northern lights is to spend a lot of time out looking at the sky, and eventually you will see them.”

Young added they are best viewed away from city lights on clear nights. He also noted the Facebook group Manitoba Aurora and Astronomy gives frequent updates on northern lights activity and sightings.

The northern lights are shown over Setting Lake, Man. on April 23, 2023. (Source: Shirley Sim)


There are more celestial sights forecasted for Manitoba skies in the next few months.

The Farmers’ Almanac released a complete list of full moons remaining in 2023, including a flower moon predicted for May 5 and a strawberry moon coming around June 3.

Young said these moons were named as part of the earliest human calendar, when people would keep track of the passage of time based on the moon’s position.

“(They) gave it a name or they related it to what’s going on in the seasons. So many cultures have come up with names – the flower moon, the strawberry moon, many of the First Nations people here in Canada have their own names that would basically relate to the area that they were living in,” he explained.

Young notes moons can be beautiful to look at any stage, and a household pair of binoculars are the perfect aid to help view the natural satellite.

“You’ll be able to see the craters and the mountains. It’s almost like being there.”

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