There was a light display in the air that could be seen from some parts of northern New England early Monday morning that didn't make a sound: the Northern Lights.

The Mount Washington Observatory posted a picture showing the green and purple glow it said was made possible by a pocket of clearing. They were also visible at ground level at the National Weather Service office in Gray, Maine.

The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are created by interactions between the sun and Earth's outer atmosphere, according to the National Weather Service.

"The Sun emits electrically-charged particles called ions, which correspondingly move away from the Sun in a stream of plasma (ionized gas) known as the solar wind. As the plasma comes in contact with the Earth's magnetic field, the ions will be agitated into moving around the Earth," the agency wrote on its website.

"Some of the ions become trapped and will consequently interact with the Earth's ionosphere (an average of 60-80 miles above the surface), causing the ions to glow. This is the same principal as how a neon sign lights up. As electrons pass through the neon tubing, they glow, thus producing the light in a neon sign," the NWS wrote.

Northern Lights seen from Mount Washington on July 4
Northern Lights seen from Mount Washington on July 4 (Mount Washington Observatory)
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A Rare Sight in New England

Northern Lights are seen the most in the northernmost latitudes during roughly half the nights during the year. The Mount Washington Observatory said they can be seen from New Hampshire 4-6 times a year on average.

"They are not unique to us as they can be seen in the lower elevations and neighboring states too. In fact, we have seen images as far south as Massachusetts from last night's event," the observatory wrote in the comments section of its post.

Northern Lights visible from the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine
Northern Lights visible from the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine (NWS Gray)
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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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