Northern Lights amaze skygazers in UK, Europe and US for third consecutive night

Spectacular display caused by most powerful solar storm to hit Earth in over two decades

Shweta Sharma
Monday 13 May 2024 06:56 BST
Northern Lights in Georgia this weekend

Skygazers were left spellbound for the third night in a row on Sunday as a solar storm painted the night skies with aurora borealis in the UK, the US, Europe and Canada.

The powerful geomagnetic storm created a glowing green, pink and purple Northern Lights show seen from several parts of the UK, including London, Liverpool and Whitley Bay.

And the lights were even more impressive across the Atlantic Ocean in the US and Canada.

The show on Sunday night was caused by a weakened “G3” category geomagnetic storm, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

It began as a more extreme G5 category storm on Friday when the celestial display was more pronounced.

This weekend’s was the most powerful solar storm to hit Earth in over two decades. Such a storm is caused when the sun ejects large clouds of particles – known as ”coronal mass ejections” – and they collide with Earth’s magnetic field.

The last G5 storm hit Earth in October 2003 and sparked power outages in Sweden.

The latest storm posed a risk to transmission lines for power grids, but not to the electrical lines ordinarily found in our homes, space weather forecaster Shawn Dahl said.

Satellites could also be affected, disrupting navigation and communication services on Earth.

SpaceX said its Starlink satellite internet service had been degraded. CEO Elon Musk wrote on X overnight that Starlink satellites were “under a lot of pressure, but holding up so far”.

Marco Petagna, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said on Sunday night that geomagnetic activity was on the rise but a “quite extensive” cloud cover could block the view for some people.

Said Pulido, a photographer, said he captured the Northern Lights “glowing above Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ statue on Crosby Beach” in Liverpool.

A sky watcher captured a view of the lights from a plane window.

Another person captured what he called the “residual end of the Aurora Borealis” above Liverpool.

People also shared pictures of a stunning display of the aurora from Canada, including at Lake Huron, which is shared by Canada with the US.

Nathan Barker, a photographer based in Toronto, shared a picture of the lights from Southern Ontario.

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