Amazing Images of Recent Auroras


Auroras spark awe across the north


AuroraMAX / Canadian Space Agency

The northern lights take on a weird, rippling shape in a super-wide-angle view captured Sunday night by the Canadian Space Agency’s AuroraMAX webcam in Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories. There’s more from AuroraMAX at the project’s website and on Twitpic.

By Alan Boyle

Is it “auroras” or “aurorae”? The dictionary prefers the former, but either way, there was a multiplicity of auroral awesomeness this weekend — thanks to a solar storm that swept past Earth’s magnetic field over the weekend. During the past few days, we’ve shown off a few stunning images from Norway and Canada, and there’s a new crop to share today.

First, a little explanation for what you’re looking at:

Auroral lights arise when electrically charged particles from the sun interact with atoms and ions high up in Earth’s atmosphere, 60 to 200 miles up. The interaction sets off emissions in wavelengths ranging from blue, to green (the most common color), to red. The colors depend on the energy of the particles in question. To get the full story on that, check out the explanations from the“Causes of Color” website and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

This weekend’s auroras were particularly bright because ofa strong solar outburst that occurred on Thursday. There’s an interval between the outburst and the displays because the particles that are ejected from the sun travel at far less than the speed of light. But they’re still pretty speedy — the velocity is on the order of a million miles an hour.

Solar outbursts, known more formally as coronal mass ejections or CMEs, have the potential to disrupt electrical grids or satellite communications. There could be radiation effects on astronauts in orbit or passengers on high-altitude, pole-traversing airplane flights. Thursday’s outburst dealt Earth’s magnetic field a glancing blow, and no significant negative impact has been reported. However, an even stronger CME is currently on its way toward Earth and may force the rerouting of polar flights. Once again, electric-grid managers and satellite operators will be on alert, as will aurora-watchers.

Observers in northern latitudes can look forward to enhanced auroras over the next couple of nights — and the rest of us can look forward to more images like these:

Bjorn Jorgensen

Bjorn Jorgensen’s view of the aurora was captured on Sunday at Grotfjord, close to Tromso in north Norway. “This was amazing,” he told “It was a wonderful experience to see these stunning auroras.” The bird-of-prey picture was taken with a Nikon D3S camera equipped with a Nikkor 14-24mm lens. Exposure for the pictures in Jorgenson’s set was ISO 2200 at five and six seconds. Check out for more views.

Chad Blakley / Lights Over Lapland

Chad Blakley said on Sunday that he had “an unbelievable night” at Sweden’s Abisko National Park. “As soon as the sun went down I realized that we were about to experience something special,” he told “The auroras have been dancing all night long and show no sign of stopping! I only came in because 32 gigabytes of memory cards were full and all three batteries were dead!” Click on over to Blakley’s Vimeo page for a time-lapse video version of this imagery, and check out for more from Abisko.

for more amazing picture of these auroras, go to the story at:

Photo of Aurora Post 9/26 CME

NIGHT TO REMEMBER: A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth’s magnetic field around noon Universal Time on Sept. 26th. The impact set the stage for a night to remember. As soon as darkness fell over Scandinavia, auroras filled the sky with such intensity that they were visible through rain clouds. Fredrik Broms photographed the scene from Kvaløya, Norway:

“These were some of the most amazing auroras I have ever seen,” says Broms, a longtime observer of the Arctic lights. “The colours were absolutely stunning with purple and deep blood-red in addition to the green. It was a night I will never forget!

Sky watchers at the highest latitudes should remain alert for auroras as Earth’s magnetic field continues to reverberate from the CME impact.