Besides the fireworks, Nordic residents started the New Year under northern lights. Also called Aurora Borealis, the magnificent show of lights have been visible in regions beneath the North Pole from Alaska, Canada, Russia, Ireland and even parts of Scotland during the night between the years.
Auroras were expected to appear after an M 1.9-class solar flare has been thrown towards the Earth by a massive solar storm on December 28. Many people wished for the Northern Lights to be visible in more southern regions but they appeared the lowest in Montana, USA.
Hundreds of people have started tweeting pictures of the light show while they were driving to New Year’s parties under the hashtag #NorthernLights.
The New Year’s Northern Lights were caused by a CME – coronal mass ejection caused by the eruption of AR2473 sunspot which released a solar flare of M 1.9-class.
The Northern Lights were expected to be visible in more southern regions than they usually do but according to NOAA, The Center of Space Weather Prediction, the geomagnetic activity produced by the coronal mass ejection started to subside on January 1. The geomagnetic storm produced was considered a G2, moderated storm with chances to develop into a G3, strong storm. However, its effects are expected to continue.
The solar activity is continuously followed by NOAA which issues alerts for geomagnetic storms when auroras are going to appear on the Northern sky. There are also a lot of twitter profiles and Facebook groups as well as websites such as Aurora Notify which announce people when the Northern Lights are predicted to appear.
If you live in the northern states you can register on the website of NOAA, Aurora Service or of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and not miss any chance of seeing a spectacular light show.
Aurora borealis have been named after Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn and Boreas, the Greek name of the northern wind in 1619 by Galileo Galilei, the famous Renaissance astronomers who discovered that the Sun is at the center and the Earth rotates around it.
Aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights or Polar Lights are usually seen above the Arctic and the Antarctic from autumn to spring. They become visible when the solar wind hits Earth’s magnetosphere – the shield protecting us from radiations coming from the sun.
The majority of auroras are usually visible in the auroral zone, between 10 and 20 degrees from the geomagnetic poles. However, in the case of strong solar storms the Northern Lights can be visible under the 20 degrees longitudes.
Image source: pixabay