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Photos: 'Absolutely once in a lifetime experience' - northern lights dazzle in Richmond

Richmond News readers sent in photos of last night's spectacular light show.

Richmond residents were treated to an amazing show of lights Friday night as the aurora borealis - the northern lights - appeared in the sky across Richmond.

Garry Point and Terra Nova parks as well as along River Road were among the popular neighbourhoods on May 10 that saw hundreds of residents and community members out and about.

The powerful solar storm starting around 11 p.m. made the lights unusually visible.

Richmond resident Jack Leung and his family were among the crowd on River Road who brought his camera and tripod to take photos of the beautiful sight.

"We saw a post on Facebook and on the news that we could possibly see the lights tonight," said Leung.

"It's such a rare sight to see in the city so we thought we would try."

He added he normally takes landscape photos so the aurora borealis was a treat within his home city.

Dominic Tioseco, also a Richmond resident, was already in the Terra Nova neighbourhood around 10:45 p.m. waiting patiently with his camera in hand for the lights.

Tioseco told the Richmond News that he last saw the lights from Richmond 25 years ago.

"Last time, the lights were mostly seen on the north side of the city and not like tonight where it's overhead," said Tioseco.

"It's amazing. It's a rare phenomenon, not raining and the sky is clear -- basically the perfect evening."

He added he was really surprised to see so many people come out to the area as well.

Meanwhile, Steveston resident Karina Reid and her family headed out after the hockey game - which the Canucks lost 4-3 in overtime - and went to Garry Point Park to see this "absolutely once in a lifetime experience."

"Amazing show at Garry Point last night," she described it to the Richmond News in an email. "The parking lot was full, some people even pitched a tent."

Other Richmond residents caught the northern lights in city centre while others were on the dykes.

According to the Canadian Space Agency, the northern lights occur when charged particles from the sun collide with gases in the upper atmosphere of the Earth. Normally, the phenomenon occurs at the poles of the Earth.

Due to a major geomagnetic storm, the lights were visible through North America on Friday night, according to the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

On Thursday, May 9, the NOAA issued a severe (G4) geomagnetic storm watch; it's the first one issued since 2005.

"At least five Earth-directed coronal mass ejections (CMEs) were observed and expected to arrive as early as midday Friday, May 10 and persist through Sunday, May 12," they state. 

"This is an unusual event."

- with files from Vancouver is Awesome

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