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Northern lights glow on Southcentral Alaskan horizon

Northern Lights Nov 8, 2012 Knik River

There weren't many skygazers out by the Knik River early Thursday morning. Loren Holmes, a professional photographer and multimedia editor for Alaska Dispatch, spent the evening there, just north of Alaska's largest city, watching and waiting.

Aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, were forecast by space scientists in Alaska and with the National Weather Service to dance across the Arctic.

Holmes knows an aurora show when he sees one. Last winter, while on assignment during Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, he witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime northern lights experience. Curtains of color rained down from the heavens -- reds and purples, greens and golds -- blanketing Ruby, a remote Alaska ghost town and Iditarod checkpoint.

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"Ribbons -- ribbons of color fell down around us" on that night, Holmes recollected Thursday as he discussed Alaska's most recent northern lights show. "Last night, there was green glow with a little red, no ribbons or definition like we saw in Ruby. No great formations. But the stars were really clear and the moonrise was cool."

Northern lights are best witnessed far from urban centers, where light pollution can mask the heavens. And that makes America's Arctic state a great place to watch aurora borealis. Few people live in Alaska -- under 800,000 people, less than the Portland-Vancouver metro area bordering Washington and Oregon -- and of those, half live in the Anchorage bowl.

The video here was edited from an hour's worth of footage taken up Hiland Road and at the end of Knik River Road, Holmes said.