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      Seeking the northern lights

      For Facebook Friday, we take a look at the northern lights, or aurora borealis in the northern hemisphere, and how to see them.

      Marquette photographer Shawn Malone of Lake Superior Photo has spent over 10 years photographing the northern lights.

      "Time, patience, and good coffee," said Malone laughing. "That's half the battle is you want to sleep when it's dark out, and this is when the light show happens is probably midnight to 3 a.m."

      She made a time lapse video called "North Country Dreamland" using 10,000 pictures from around the U.P. of the aurora which won the Smithsonian Viewers' Choice Award in 2013.

      Solar flares are common triggers for the aurora. They launch charged particles into space, and when they're Earth-directed, it means a good show is on the way.

      "As these electrical charges interact with our upper atmosphere, the gas will become charged and glow, and we'll see the northern lights," said Scott Stobbelaar, amateur astronomer and retired planetarium director for Marquette Senior High School.

      The stronger the flare, the further south the northern lights go, and you'll likely see more colors, like red.

      A common spot for aurora viewing is the Lake Superior shoreline, where it is often darkest at night. To see the aurora, find a dark spot away from city lights and let your eyes adjust, but avoid looking at your now bright phone, otherwise your eyes will have to readjust every time.

      On Facebook, Scott Bolster says, "I've seen them when I had my airplane and was flying home from downstate at night. They were amazing."

      Malone didn't want to share some of her secret viewing spots, but she says Lake Superior is our guide to good aurora viewing. She made this new time lapse, part of a greater video called "Radiance" (still incomplete), using pictures from this week.

      "I really can't think of a better location in the Midwest to see them due to that factor, due to Lake Superior," Malone said.

      There are numerous websites that offer aurora forecasts, post pictures, and have a notification service (some of which are not free). Here are a few:

      SpaceWeather.com (which posts pictures from around the world, including many from Michigan)

      The Geophysical Institute from the University of Alaska Fairbanks

      NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center

      Here are the full length time lapse videos of North Country Dreamland and Radiance .

      If you ever have pictures of the northern lights, please send them to us! We often use them for Pride of the U.P. photos. If you post it to Twitter, use #MIwx.