Aurora visible from main island of Honshu for first time in over 20 years.

Stargazing in Japan usually requires some legwork, or at least some rail-riding. With the country’s big cities being so big and bright, there’s usually too much around them to get really nice views of the night sky.

Last weekend presented a perfect reason to not just head out of town, but to head north too, as clear weather coincided with a series of solar storms that produced breathtaking views of the resulting auroras visible even from Japan’s main island of Honshu, the first time that’s happened in decades.

Among those who jumped at this chance was Kagaya, one of Japan’s foremost photographers of starry skies. Kagaya took the above photo at the coast of Aomori Prefecture, and points out that the camera is facing north, so that’s not the sunset we’re looking behind the rustic torii gate in the shot. Off to the left we can see the moon shining brightly, and there’s even a streak of light left by a passing satellite visible to the right as it makes its celestial circuit of the earth. Though he’s been an active photographer for many years, Kagaya says this is the first time he was able to see the aurora from Honshu, which is usually too far south for the phenomenon.

Amazing views could be seen on Honshu even further south than Aomori, such as the one in the photo above shared through Mantenboshi, an observatory in the town of Suzu, on the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture.

▼ A time-lapse video of the view from Mantenboshi

The view from Mantenboshi is especially inspiring, as its located in a part of Ishikawa Prefecture that was damaged by the earthquake that shook the region on New Year’s Day. The facility is currently closed to the public as part of repair and restoration procedures, but the staff still wanted to help show people just how beautiful our universe can be. According to Mantenboshi’s records, last weekend was the first time for aurora to be visible on Honshu since October 31, 2003 (yes, the sky went crazy on Halloween night that year).

▼ Photo of the October 31, 2003 aurora seen from the Noto Peninsula

And of course, if the aurora could be seen as far south as Ishikawa, it could also be seen up in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture, where the town of Nayoro’s Kitasubaru observatory also photos and video of the atmospheric event.

Odds are it’s going to be a very long time until sights like this can be seen on Honshu again, but they’re beautiful enough that we think we’ll have no trouble remembering them until the next opportunity.

Sources: Twitter/@KAGAYA_11949, Twitter/@man_ten_bo_shi, Twitter/@kitasubaru via IT Media
Top image: Twitter/@KAGAYA_11949
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