July 20, 2024
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

Dazzling Skies: Solar storms Paint the Weekend

Solar storms

Over the weekend, a remarkable sequence of potent solar storms painted the skies across the Northern Hemisphere with vivid hues, treating spectators in the United States, Canada, Europe, China, and beyond to awe-inspiring displays of the northern lights. Authorities anticipate that these breathtaking celestial spectacles may persist for several more days.

The mesmerizing phenomenon known as the aurora borealis, or northern lights, arises from collisions among molecules in the upper echelons of Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in the release of energy in the form of visible light. Its counterpart, the aurora australis, or southern lights, mirrors this phenomenon in the southern hemisphere. While these luminous exhibitions can grace certain polar regions for up to half the year, sightings closer to the equator are rare. Thus, the recent occurrences over North America, Europe, and similarly situated locales have been particularly cherished.

During periods of heightened space weather activity, the solar storms expand from the poles towards the equator. In instances of extreme activity, it may extend as far as the continental United States. This was precisely the case over the weekend, as an exceptionally robust geomagnetic storm made landfall on Earth, setting the stage for a series of explosive nocturnal vistas worldwide. This historic G5 storm, the most severe classification on the scale commencing at G1, marked the first encounter of its magnitude with Earth in decades. Coinciding with a succession of coronal mass ejections—expulsions of solar material from the Sun’s corona capable of inducing geomagnetic storms—it fueled the northern lights displays throughout Friday and Saturday.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, subsequent surges of solar storms are anticipated to arrive midday on Sunday. Consequently, the center issued a geomagnetic storm watch, with expectations of G4 or G5 events following these impending coronal mass ejections. “Watches at this level are exceedingly rare,” emphasized the space weather prediction center in a Saturday advisory. It further highlighted the potential for the aurora to be visible over a vast expanse, reaching as far south as Alabama to northern California.

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