Northern lights shimmer over Finland
Solar flares can amplify aurora light shows and, during extreme events, make the northern lights visible to regions farther south than typical displays.
Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Photo: Thomas Kast
The northern lights dance is stunning blue and green hues as they light up the night sky over Oulunsalo, Finland in this captivating night sky photo sent in to SPACE.com.
Photographer Thomas Kast, captured a marvelous photo of the northern lights around 2:15 a.m. local time on Aug. 31. The constellation Ursa Major (Great Bear) can be spotted toward the top right of the photo, just above the bright city lights of Oulo.
The northern lights are auroras triggered by charged particles from the sun (the solar wind) which interact with Earth's upper atmosphere to create a vivid glowing vista such as that seen in this image. These particles are drawn by Earth’s magnetic field to either the North or South Pole, resulting in aurora borealis, or northern lights, and its southern counterpart the aurora australis, or southern lights.
While auroras are typically seen at high latitudes of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, during several solar eruptions of solar flares, the sun's weather can spark intense geomagnetic storms in Earth's atmosphere. These storms can amplify aurora light shows and, during extreme events, make the northern lights visible to regions farther south than typical displays.
The sun is currently in an active phase of its space weather cycle and expected to reach its peak activity later this year. The current sun weather cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24.
To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.
Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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