The Sun has been experiencing a series of outbursts over the past few days caused by sunspot AR3229, which has been causing multiple solar flares and ejecting large amounts of solar particles into space. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Earth experienced a double whammy of strong solar winds and a coronal mass ejection (CME) that both slammed into the planet. When the solar storm hit Earth, it was a terrifying event that marked the fastest solar wind speed seen in years, resulting in the strongest solar storm of 2023.
The solar storm caused a dangerous G3 class geomagnetic storm and bright aurora was seen in many parts of the world, especially in the UK. Skywatchers from Scotland, Northern Wales, Ireland and even southern England shared the spectacular aurora lighting up the sky on Twitter. Even Stonehenge in Wiltshire observed auroras in the sky.
Northern Irish photographer, Eoin Boyce, shares his first-hand experience of capturing the Northern Lights. “I first picked up a camera during the COVID lockdown and have wanted to capture the aurora ever since. Living in Northern Ireland is tough enough, given that we have so much of it,” Boyce told space.com in an email. Compared to how many are further south where the aurora is usually seen.”
Stuart Atkinson, another veteran astrophotographer, captured the aurora and shared his experience with space.com. He said, “I took these pictures last night from a place called Shapp, which is probably one of the highest points in my area and is further north than where I live so I can see the aurora from home.” Get a better view. “
Dangers of solar storms
When a solar storm hits the Earth, it creates a geomagnetic storm and the Earth’s magnetic field lines are temporarily disturbed, releasing enormous amounts of magnetic energy. The energy and heat is enough to ionize the oxygen in the upper atmosphere and turn it into the blue-green colors of light we know as the aurora.
Additionally, geomagnetic storms can disrupt or destroy GPS, radio communications, mobile phone connectivity, satellites and even the Internet. Also, they can create harmful geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) in the power grid.