Chances of more northern lights are slim for now

A major solar storm ensured the event would be visible from Austria on Saturday night – and still partially so on Sunday night. Meanwhile, the disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field weakened significantly. “It’s not enough to see anything in Austria,” said Tanja Amersdorfer from Geosphere Austria on Sunday afternoon.

“There are more solar storms on the way”

“There are more solar storms on the way,” emphasized the vice president of Geosphere Austria’s Space Meteorological Office (formerly the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, ZAMG). But whether they will hit Earth is questionable, the physicist said, “if only at the edge.”

Photo series with 11 images

As of last night, the northern lights were only sporadic in Austria and could not be seen with the naked eye, but only with a camera. According to the ORF weather editorial team, visibility is possible at night in Vienna. But solar storms and associated geomagnetic disturbances are much weaker than Saturday night.

Northern Lights in a few weeks

But according to experts from Geosphere Austria, there is a high probability of solar storms happening again in a few weeks or months. The cycle of solar activity is currently at its maximum, occurring every eleven years. What was special about the weekend was that “several solar storms started from the Sun at the same time.

“If they interact, the geomagnetic reaction is greater,” said Ammersdorfer, adding that the southern orientation of the magnetic field in these solar storms also explains the visibility of the northern lights (“aurora borealis”) as far away as Austria.

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A solar storm brings the northern lights over Vienna

According to a US authority, Earth is currently experiencing its first “intense” solar storm since 2003. The northern lights are visible at night in Vienna from Friday to Saturday. Many posts were shared on social media.

For many, the first time

“Most visitors have never seen such spectacular northern lights in Austria before,” said Michael Jäger, head of the Martinsberg Astronomical Center in Lower Austria, on Saturday. The solar storm ensured the night sky remained colorful even after midnight. On Sunday night, the faint northern lights were easily seen in the mountains due to high visibility and low light pollution.

The first “extreme” solar storm in 20 years has caused impressive Northern Lights in skies over many parts of the world. The event reached Earth on Friday afternoon and continued in varying degrees over the weekend.

Explosions of energetic particles

In many countries, people posted photos of the colorfully lit night sky on social media – including Vienna – more on the spectacular Northern Lights in Vienna. In the Americas, this phenomenon, otherwise only found at the poles, is celebrated in countries such as the United States, Chile and Argentina. Avid users also posted photos in Australia and New Zealand.

A solar storm is an explosion of energetic particles and magnetic fields emanating from the Sun. The region where solar storms originate is a complex sunspot cluster 17 times the diameter of Earth.

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Disruptions are also possible

The solar storm was classified as “severe” on Friday – a category last reached in October 2003 during so-called Halloween storms, according to the US National Weather Service’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center. Then there was a blackout in Sweden and damaged transformers in South Africa.

The strongest geomagnetic storm ever measured was measured in 1859 and went down in history as the Carrington Event, named after British astronomer Richard Carrington. It caused major disruption to the telegraph-based communications network, setting telegraphs on fire and electrocuting workers.

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