The sun is near the peak of its 11-year sunspot cycle, which means it's prone to violent coronal mass ejections (CMEs) of supercharged solar particles. And when those particles smash into Earth's upper atmosphere — triggering what's known as a geomagnetic storm — they often produce vivid auroras like the one above.

Shot by photographer Gorän Strand over Östersund, Sweden, the dazzling scene came two days after sunspot AR1692 released an M1-class solar flare on March 15, sending an especially large CME hurtling toward Earth at 900 miles per second. The video opens with a hydrogen-alpha mosaic of the sun during this eruption, followed by all-sky time-lapse aurora footage Strand shot on March 17. The latter consists of 2,464 raw images, Strand writes on YouTube, and the whole video contains more than 40 gigabytes of data.

The geomagnetic storm behind this aurora only measured G2 on a scale from G1 to G5, according to NASA, but it still produced spectacular displays in many high-latitude parts of the world. For a different view of the same storm, check out the video below, which was shot with several digital SLR cameras in southern Iceland:

[Via Boing BoingUniverse Today]

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Russell McLendon ( @russmclendon ) writes about humans and other wildlife.

All-sky camera captures wild aurora [Video]
A solar eruption slammed into Earth this month, sparking a vivid aurora that photographer Göran Strand caught in this all-sky time-lapse video.