An aurora is one of the most wondrous things a person can witness on our great planet. If you happen to live near the North Pole (or the South Pole, in the case of the aurora australis) during the cold winter months, then you're pretty much guaranteed a front row seat to this atmospheric spectacle.

Because the intensity of an aurora depends on the amount of solar radiation hitting the atmosphere, catching one of these events during a massive solar flare can be an experience of a lifetime. Just ask photographer Henry Jun Wah Lee, who created this video, which displays the awe-inspiring auroral effects of a monster solar flare that hit the Earth this past March. The flare erupted as a result of the sun's solar maximum, which is the peak of solar activity in the sun's 11-year cycle. Because of the flare's strength, the aurora was viewable in regions that virtually never see the northern lights.

"I was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time when the solar storm of the decade hit Earth," Jun Wah Lee writes of his time shooting his "Apotheosis" video in Iceland. "The sky was covered with auroras so strong, they were visible at dusk. This continued all night until dawn. In the film, you will see rare red, yellow, white, blue and violet purple auroras."

What's cool about this video is that there's more than just magnificent aurora wisps. If you survey the video closely, you can catch a glimpse of brilliant red-orange near the horizon of some time-lapse clips — this is the eruption of the Bárðarbunga volcano, which was happening at the same time:

aurora borealis and volcano
 
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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.