Last Weekend’s Auroras… From Space

North America, lit up with auroras. Image credit: USAFOf course, as usual, we had rain here on Vancouver Island, Canada in December. But large portions of the Northern Hemisphere were treated to quite the sky show over the weekend – beautiful auroras stretched across the skies. All thanks to a powerful flurry of solar flares unleashed from the Sun last week.

Sunspot 930 was the culprit, blasting out 4 X-class flares right at the Earth. The first to come our way was an X9 on December 5th, one of the strongest ever seen. This was quickly followed up by an X6 on December 6th, an X3 on December 13, and an X1 on December 14th.

The stream of particles interacted with the Earth’s magnetosphere, and lit up the skies. People saw the auroras by looking up, but Earth observation satellites were also looking down and captured the attached image. This picture was taken by a US Air Force DSMP Satellite from a range of 830 km above the United States.

Spaceweather has a wonderful gallery of photos taken from the ground too.