Northern Lights in Sutton Massachusetts


On January 24th, 2011, the earth was hit by a massive solar flare and Northern Lights were being seen in numerous locations where they normally couldn't be spotted. Sutton, Massachusetts was well within the range of visibility. Researchers indicated that the northern lights should be visible as far south as southern Pennsylvania, so we fit well within that geographical range!

Night fell with cloud cover. I was disappointed but I stayed awake, poking my head out every hour or so and hoping for things to clear up. They finally did about 1am. The night sky was solid black, with an amazing number of very bright stars all over - except for to the north. Doesn't it figure - looking north looks right into Worcester. The glow over Worcester caused the stars in that region of the sky to barely be visible.

Still, we drove over to the entrance of the Blackstone National Golf Course. The corner where the golf course driveway meets the main road gives you a fairly clear view of the northern sky. Unfortunately, all that could be seen was the ambiant glow of Worcester's lights. It is fairly stunning just how bright it is. Even at 1am, it was a substantial glow.

Northern Lights in Sutton Massachusetts

Northern Lights in Sutton Massachusetts

So we headed back over to Central Turnpike and pulled over just east of where Central Turnpike crosses the road to Purgatory Chasm. There's a farm to the north side there, meaning there is very flat land which then dips down towards the north. You get a clear view of Worcester laid out before you. It becomes even more clear that nothing like northern lights could be seen through that light pollution.

Northern Lights in Sutton Massachusetts

Northern Lights in Sutton Massachusetts

Northern Lights in Sutton Massachusetts

So unfortunately I have to say that the chance of seeing northern lights - or really anything astronomical that is low on that northern horizon - is slim to none in Sutton Massachusetts. I did see several shooting stars while out admiring the night sky, but they were all much higher up. If you want to see the northern lights, even on days when they SHOULD be visible, you should drive up north past Worcester, and then look north.

Sutton Massachusetts Photo Collection

SuttonMass