Breathtaking Recent Aurora Images from Earth and Space

by Nancy Atkinson on November 19, 2010

A recent aurora as seen by astronaut Doug Wheelock on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

With the Sun’s activity increasing just a bit, sky watchers have witnessed an uptick in aurorae, especially northern observers. This top image is from an *extreme* northern observer, as in way up; about 320 km (220 miles) up above the Earth. Astronaut Doug Wheelock took this image from the International Space Station, and the beautiful sight made him wax poetic:

“Aurora Borealis as I will forever paint it in my dreams,” he wrote on Twitter. “Almost time to return home… no regrets… but mixed emotions. Leonardo da Vinci was right… ‘For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been… and there you will long to return.'”

See other stunning recent aurora images from a more Earthly viewpoint:

These particular aurorae sightings were likely the result of a solar flare that erupted towards Earth on Nov. 12.

Colorful Clouds, taken on Nov. 14, 2010 by Ole C. Salomonsen in Tromsø, Norway. Used by permission.

Describing this picture, Salomonsen said on Flickr: “With a CME expected to hit earth on Nov.14th we could still see only a faint aurora. We got frustrated and then decided to drive back towards the city where it now was reported to clear up. After 5 minutes in the car suddenly we could see a strong aurora bursting out behind the partially cloudy sky.”

Aurora over Tromsø, Norway, November 14, 2010. Credit: Ole C. Salomonsen. Used by permission

This is another gorgeous shot by Salomonsen, and on his Flickr site, he points out Ursa Major is visible in the top left, said it was just amazing how there were two rays of white and purple aurora, one moving faster than the other.

Aurora Activity near Dettah, in the Northwest Territories. Credit: Credit: Sean Davies; used by permission.

Photographer Sean Davies took this image on Nov. 13, 2010 near Dettah in the Northwest Territories, Canada, and said, “The aurora put on a great show just outside Yellowknife. The show lasted a good hour.” There’s another from Sean, below, on the same night. You can see more of Sean’s images at his Flickr site.

More aurora activity near Dettah, NWT. Credit: Sean Davies; used by permission.

The photo below was taken on November 13, 2010 in Auster-Skaftafellssysla, Iceland by Skarphéðinn Þráinsson. See more of his images at Flickr.

Aurora Borealis at Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon) south coast Iceland. Credit: Skarphéðinn Þráinsson. Used by permission

This timelapse video was taken by Tor Even Mathisen, also from Tromsø, Norway.

Aurora Borealis timelapse HD – Tromsø 2010 from Tor Even Mathisen on Vimeo.

*Posted especially for Hon. Salacious B. Crumb


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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