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Northern Lights In Canada Provide Stunning Image (PHOTO)

First Posted: 09/23/11 08:48 PM ET   Updated: 11/23/11 05:12 AM ET

It's hard to believe this picture is real.

But Yuichi Takasaka, a photographer who moved from Japan to Canada, took this photo of the aurora on September 12 at Hidden Lake Territorial Park in Canada's Northwest Territories, an area he lived near for seven years.

It was NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day on Friday.

According to the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, an aurora is caused by the collision of electrons from space with atoms and molecules of gases (like oxygen and nitrogen) from the Earth's atmosphere. This collision results in a transfer of energy to the oxygen's electrons, and, as a result, quick bursts of light are emitted. A great number of these collisions create the light that's visible to the naked eye.

More geomagnetic storms occur in the fall and spring, says NASA, so this is great time for viewing the aurora borealis or australis (if you're lucky enough to be in an area where it's visible!)

Check out more amazing images and videos of the aurora.

LOOK: "September's Aurora."
Copyright and courtesy of Yuichi Takasaka / TWAN / www.blue-moon.ca

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Filed by Timothy Stenovec  |