BIG MEADOWS, Va. (WRIC) — It’s not a phenomenon one expects to see in the night sky above Virginia — usually, you would plan a trip to the Arctic Circle for views like this. But some very lucky photographers captured these stunning images of an aurora over the Shenandoah Valley Thursday night.

The colorful light displays could be seen as far west as Sacramento, Calif., and even as far south as North Carolina. The rare sight here at home is being attributed to a geomagnetic “substorm,” according to the National Weather Service.

Photographer Peter Forister captured these incredible images of an aurora, with the small town of Stanley dazzling in the valley below. He said the lights were visible to the naked eye for just about an hour, before twinkling out of sight.

“Although the show still didn’t match what happens further north with aurora dancing directly overhead,” Forister said. “It was still quite the experience to be standing just a few minutes from home with that view … This night will go down in my memory as one of the most unexpected but remarkable experiences I’ve had living in Virginia.”

According to Forister, there were even some faint thunderstorms in the area, giving off bright flashes of lightning that only made the experience that much more breathtaking.