Earth was gifted with another light fantastic Aurora Borealis display on Tuesday.
The aurora show was boosted by what was said to be a severe solar storm, potentially reaching as far as Oregon in the U.S. and unexpectedly being seen across various reaches in the southern hemisphere.
Ranking as severe or 4, one away from the top, on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s scale for geomagnetic effects, this was the heaviest solar storm to blast Earth since 2013. It’s now been a decade since the highest level aurora storm was recorded (5 or extreme).
While this Aurora display was forecast and highly anticipated, the two blasts of magnetic plasma which left the sun on Sunday were reported to entwine and slam into the earth’s atmosphere on Tuesday, roughly 15 hours early, and with much greater velocity than expected.
That’s according to Thomas Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Centre in Boulder, Colorado. He commented that the storm was “significantly stronger than expected.”
A number of authorities have warned of potential power grid disruption, as well as upset GPS tracking and communication systems. Although Berger confirmed that this time satellite operations can’t be affected by radiation bursts from the aurora.
But the beautiful display of the Aurora Borealis was affecting to most people who witnessed it, and a good number of camera lenses able to capture its colours.
Usually only seen in the far north, this showing of the Aurora Borealis was untypically generous, as more people were able to enjoy the colours. Before sunrise on Tuesday, auroras were witnessed in areas of the northern U.S. including Washington state, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) March 17, 2015
Other images show the lights from nothern England.
— owen humphreys (@owenhumphreys1) March 18, 2015
Photographs have been tweeted and published online from northern hemisphere regions such as Estonia and Alaska, and forecasters have said there’s the possibility of further shows in northern Europe and Russia, as well as further south in central Germany and Poland.
Southern hemisphere shows were reported from Dunedin in New Zealand, and from mainland Australia locations including Perth and Goulburn.
— Ian Griffin (@iangriffin) March 17, 2015
With the lunar eclipse upon us later on this week, now is a particularly exciting time for stargazers and anyone with an interest in matters of space. The eclipse will be best viewed from notherly hemisphere regions, but partial eclipses should be viewable from much further south.
Until then, the dazzling show of this week’s Aurora Borealis will give the photograph hungry internet more than enough to wonder at.
[Image – Xinhua News Agency/REX]