Aurora Borealis, Northern lights, appear in the Hudson Valley

The aurora borealis, or northern lights, fill the The aurora borealis, or northern lights, fill the sky early March 17, 2013, above the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox church in Kenai, Alaska. The bright display at times filled the sky. Photo Credit: AP

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The Hudson Valley got a rare glimpse of the aurora borealis Saturday night, thanks to Thursday's solar flare.

Known colloquially as the northern lights, the shimmering ribbons of color are usually confined to the "auroral ovals" near the northern and southern poles. Enthusiasts are known to plan vacations around the chance to glimpse auroras, traveling to sparsely populated regions of Canada in the deep winter, when viewing conditions are best.

Auroras happen when remnants of solar wind collide with charged protons in the Earth's atmosphere, creating the many-hued celestial displays. Northern lights are called aurora borealis, while southern lights are called aurora australis.

The skies above the Hudson Valley aren't known to light up with the green, blue and red glow of auroras, but Thursday's flare, which briefly disrupted radio broadcasts, was angled directly toward Earth, according to an AccuWeather report tracking the geomagnetic storm.

A map published by AccuWeather shows prime viewing conditions on a short stretch of the East Coast, including most of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and a slice of New York that covers Westchester County, as well as parts of Putnam and Rockland counties.

The light show was said to begin as early as 8 p.m., AccuWeather reported.

To catch a glimpse of the aurora, find a spot free from light pollution. Local weather conditions were favorable and was prime for a clear view of the sky, said David Stark, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"Our skies should be mostly clear as we head through the evening," Stark said. "There won't be too many clouds blocking the view."

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