Nebraskans Seek Rare Northern Lights Shows • Nebraska Examiner

LINCOLN – Nebraska residents took to the country roads and other dark places Friday and Saturday evening in hopes of capturing a rare display of the Northern Lights that are visible much further south than normal.

The flow of traffic Saturday evening from Lincoln north toward Branched Oak Lake reminded some of the final scene of “Field of Dreams,” which showed an unbroken line of headlights toward a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield.

“I was impressed,” said Catherine Pond, the National Willa Cather Center’s marketing specialist, who captured several images of spectacular red, green and yellow lights behind locations in and around Red Cloud associated with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author .

Former Lincoln Journal-Star reporter Al Laukaitis said he didn’t see much at midnight Friday night from his acreage southeast of Lincoln, but when he returned at 2 a.m., “the sky just popped.”

“Oh, my God, I started seeing this green tint. “I thought, ‘It’s happening,’” he said. “I was just fascinated.”

Northern Lights seen near Wagon Train Lake, southeast of Lincoln, early on May 11, 2024. (Courtesy of Al Laukaitis)

Both Laukaitis and Pond said the colors in the iPhone photos were much more vibrant than with the naked eye.

This was reported by the National Space Weather Prediction Center Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, such was the light show visible with the naked eye as far south as Virginia, Missouri, Colorado and Northern California on Friday evening through early Saturday morning.

The show in the Lincoln and Red Cloud areas was reportedly less spectacular from Saturday evening to Sunday morning, as clouds obscured some of the view.

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center predicted the aurora will be most visible north of the U.S.-Canada border on Sunday evening.

Pond said she is obsessed with the weather and often looks for photos after a thunderstorm or tornado, but she had always hoped to capture the aurora borealis in action.

Red Cloud and the 612-acre Willa Cather Memorial Prairie south of town, she said, are ideal places for stargazing because of its rural location, far from any major city, on the Kansas-Nebraska border in south central Nebraska.

‘Here… the big sky. There’s nothing like it,” said Pond, whose normal home is in the middle of the well-wooded hills of Kentucky.

Laukaitis said he was surprised to see as much as he saw from his rural home southeast of Lincoln, near Wagon Train Lake. The city lights usually darken the night sky in that northern direction, he said.