25 January 2012

The Solar Storm and the Aurora

The biggest solar storm in eight years hit Earth last Thursday. Doomsday aficionados were disappointed yet again because big as it was, it didn't have any impressive effect on the Earth apart form the amazing beauty in the sky. All around the top of the earth, solar particles colliding with the earth's magnetic field created an Aurora Borealis that was a sight to remember.

This image by NASA shows the creation of new solar active regions following the solar flare eruption. The loop structures are made of superheated plasma, each one several times larger than the size of the Earth.

While the solar storm interfered with satellite transmissions and forced some planes regularly flying near the North Pole to change route, the lucky dwellers of the far off northern regions of the Earth were able to witness a massive light show in the evening skies.

My dear friend Mary of Inside My Hideaway was the first to ask me on Tuesday if we managed to see the spectacular Aurora Borealis but alas, the skies above Southern Norway were way too overcast. That also means that I didn't have the chance to make a single photo myself but thankfully there weren't clouds further north and further south and I can show you some stunning Aurora photos by other watchful eyes.

Northern Lights over Trondheim, Norway on 22. January 2012 taken by Schwebbes
Northern lights above Kvaløya, Norway on 23. January 2012, taken by Lars Tiede
Northern lights above Sweden on 24. January 2012, taken by razaonetwo
Northern lights above Finland on 22. January 2012, taken by Janne
Northern lights above Reykjavik, Iceland on 23. January 2012, taken by Matthias Burch
Northern lights above Fairbanks, Alaska on 22. January 2012, taken by Jason Ahrns
Northern lights above Inishowen, Ireland on 22. January 2012, taken by leppre

Truth be told, I am envious of everyone who had a good view in the past few days and managed to take a glimpse photo of that surreal light show in the sky. I must confess that witnessing Aurora Borealis is one of the most intense experiences for someone interested in nature and the world around. It is unforgettable even for those uninterested!

I remember sitting on the roof with my husband one exceptionally cold October night in Iceland, celebrating our first wedding anniversary with an incredibly colorful and mind-blowing display of the Northern Lights that seemed to go on for an eternity. A show that I knew was staged just for the two of us. At some moments the Aurora resembled this photo:

Northern lights above Fairbanks Alaska, 22. January 2012, taken by Jason Ahrns

As if I was watching a 3D movie, only it was real, I could have reached out and touched the dancing lights but I was afraid not to spoil the moment, not to miss a thing and I stood still next to my husband, freezing under the Northern sky that was talking to me.

I still remember how humbled and in awe I felt that night and I wish you all to have a chance to see the Aurora with your own eyes one day. You will never forget it, I promise.

Mary, this video is for you:

Auroras 22.01.12 Birtavarre Norway from Ørjan Bertelsen on Vimeo.


  1. So many thoughts rush after each other...

    I wonder what ancestral tales people who lived "all around the top of the earth" created to justify this phenomenon, ages ago, before it was understood. Do you personally know any? :)

    (Now I know what will finally trigger my long planned trip to Iceland: the next big solar storm!)

    1. Oh yes! You should go to Iceland even without a solar storm. At least once in the wintertime to see the Aurora and at least once in the summertime to witness the endless days.

      And yes, the stories are endless and most of them scary!

    2. Oh, I can imagine!! Long nights breed ghosts!

  2. That is so incredible! I've never seen them in person myself, but every photo is just so breathtaking.

  3. Oh wow - these images are amazing. I would have also loved to seen such a great view. The world is so beautiful. Sorry the doomsday people were disappointed but I am thrilled that the earth is safe ;-)


  4. When I was a child in Canada, we used to see the northern lights. They were spectacular.

  5. Wow Sonya! I'm trying to think of what to say but these images are so stunning, I'm at a loss for words. I can only imagine how spectacular it must be to see these lights in person. Thank you for the video! I've watched it twice already. :)

  6. Gorgeous images and simply amazing. Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Unbelievably gorgeous. That must be a spectacular show, one I'd love to see one day. Sorry you missed it, but you did manage to dig up some amazing pictures to share! :)

  8. Boy, is your husband a lucky guy. No money could have bought you a better anniversary present!

    These images are truly awe inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. It helps me feel closer to my son's (the astrophysicist) passion for the cosmos!

  9. Oh my goodness. What a gorgeous photo!! <3

    I did hear that the northern lights would probably be visible farther south than usual (I think)...too bad you didn't get to see them!

    After reading this post and seeing all the gorgeous photos/videos, I added a new item to my bucket list: see and photograph the Aurora Borealis!!

    Thanks for sharing!!

  10. How Beautiful! I hope to have the opportunity to see the Aruora Borealis one day soon.
    Everyday Inspired