A Perfect Storm

Every once in a while, the third rock from the Sun gets buffeted by a storm originating from its solar guardian. Energized particles rain down upon the Earth, and like water down a hill, flow down the planet's magnetic field lines toward the Poles. As this deluge of particles collides with atoms in our atmosphere, light energy is released, and a rainbow of shimmering colors hangs over the ends of the Earth:

Aurora Borealis

Head over to National Geographic for more gorgeous images of last week's Northern Lights show. And stand by for more - another deluge approaches.