Photographers, keep an eye out for auroras around the world this weekend
A powerful solar flare erupted from the sun on November 29, 2023. It was classified as an M9.8-class, one of the strongest in recent years. Do you know what this means? Yep, auroras might soon light up the skies all over the world again.
What can we expect?
The recent solar flare hurled a super-hot plasma eruption known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) toward Earth. We can expect it to arrive on Earth today (Thursday, November 30), and it’s likely to cause a geomagnetic storm. This causes a disturbance to Earth’s magnetic field, sending auroras where we don’t normally see them.
But geomagnetic storms don’t only cause the wonderful greenish glow we all want to observe and photograph. Strong ones can cause issues like power outages and disruptions to satellite communications. NOAA ranks geomagnetic storms from G 1 to G 5, with G 1 being the weakest and G 5 being “extreme.” The recent solar flare is expected to cause a G1-class geomagnetic storm, so there’s nothing to be concerned about. However, it could be stronger if the CME catches up with slower CMEs released from the sun the day before. The G 1 conditions are likely today (November 30), and we can expect G2 on Friday (December 1) as additional CMEs hit. And in this case, we can expect auroras as far south as the United States, the UK… We recently even saw the northern lights in Serbia!
How and where to look for auroras?
The aurora borealis, or northern lights, typically adorn the skies of high latitudes. You can mainly see them in Alaska, northern Canada, and northern Europe. However, during periods of increased solar activity, like now, aurora borealis travels farther south. Similarly, aurora australis, or southern lights, extend their reach northward during these solar outbursts.
So, today and during this weekend, seek out a dark location far from the city lights and light pollution. Point your camera and your eyes to the northern sky or southern sky if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere. Don’t get distracted for too long, as auroras can suddenly erupt without any announcement.
NOAA shares some tips for observing auroras, so make sure to read those out before heading out. Take a look at these aurora photography tips, too, and let us know if you capture the celestial spectacle. Good luck!
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.