(RNN) - The mid-South was surprised Monday night with a rare sighting of the phenomenon known as the aurora borealis, or Northern Light, and forecasters say the effect could make a second appearance tonight.
Reported sightings of the aurora trickled in from Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and as far south as northern Arkansas and Mississippi, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
One viewer reported seeing the aurora in Corning, AR. Several sightings were also reported in Alabama.
"It was very beautiful and a bit spooky, because at the time, we didn't know what it was," Andrew Pugh wrote on WAFF's Facebook page.
Monday's aurora was rare because of how far south its glow was witnessed. The aurora is typically viewed at high latitudes because the Earth's magnetic field is strongest at its poles, according to the NWS.
The phenomenon is created when energetic particles in the sun's solar wind interact with gases in the magnetic field in the Earth's upper atmosphere.
"This is the same principal as how a neon sign lights up," writes the NWS on its website. "As electrons pass through the neon tubing, they glow, thus producing the light in a neon sign."
The color of the aurora depends on the energy of the particle as it hits the gas. Auroras tend to appear greenish yellow in color, and occasionally red along their tops and bottoms. In rare cases, they can appear "faint blue" or "deep blood red," according to a pamphlet issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
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