Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Weekly Roundup 18: Aurora Skies

Aurora Skies sounds like a good book title, maybe, or a band name. But last Friday, much of the northern hemisphere was treated to an unusually widespread display of Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, courtesy of an extreme solar storm.

The sun's activity waxes and wanes over an 11 year cycle called Solar Cycle 25, which is reaching its peak. Here's the nutshell explanation of what causes aurora skies: Coronal Mass Ejections (basically explosions) on the sun blast charged particles into space. If these particles are captured by the earth's magnetic field, they heat up the gases in our atmosphere. Different gases emit different colors, which results in the characteristic waves of blue, green, violet, and red.

In the US, the Northern Lights were seen as far south as the Florida Keys. And they were seen less than an hour from my house. But I missed them! For no good reason other than I was tired and didn't want to hop in my car and drive around in the dark.

This is a decision I regretted first thing the next morning when the pictures began popping up all over social media. I mean, people travel to the top of the dang world to see the Northern Lights. I just had to drive toward Wyoming.

Saturday night, we had cloudy skies, so no second chance.

Oh, well. Life is full of missed opportunities, and this was one of them. I can only hope the sun decides to put on another show before Solar Cycle 25 winds down.

If you saw the aurora, I hope your experience was magical!

See some of the gorgeous photos from around the world here.

Have a great week!


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