IN IMAGES, IN PICTURES. “A historic night”: magnificent photos of the Northern Lights near you

By

Maxime T’sjoen

Published on May 11, 2024 at 7:46 a.m.
; updated May 11, 2024 at 9:53 a.m.

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An “extreme” solar storm, the first of this level since 2003, began to hit the Earth on the night of Friday May 10 to Saturday May 11, 2024, generating impressive northern lights.

Northern lights observable almost throughout France, including in large cities like Rennes, Paris and Bordeaux where photos have flooded social networks.

Overview of a “historic” night, according to Éric Lagadec, astrophysicist at the Côte d’Azur Observatory.

“A gift from space weather”

“If you’re in a place where it’s dark, cloudless and with little light pollution, you might see some pretty impressive aurora borealis,” said SWPC scientist Rob Steenburgh. “This is truly the gift of space weather.”

In the big cities

Fabrice Mottez, editor-in-chief of the journal “Astronomie”, researcher (CNRS) at the Paris Observatory, warned us in a previous article, the “aurora borealis [pourraient être] stronger than usual.

But from there to seeing it in the heart of Paris?

Otherwise, we were able to observe the auroras in Rennes.

Northern lights could be observed in the center of Rennes. (© CB / -.fr)

Obviously, to observe them, the ideal was to get out of the city lights and into a very dimly lit place. Like here, in Vendée, with photos listed by the Sand Journal.

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“I dreamed of going to Norway to see some, well, I did in L’Aiguillon-sur-Vie (Vendée). » (© Pauline Trichet)
Stéphane immortalized the moment before sending his photos to Journal des Sables.
Stéphane immortalized the moment before sending his photos to Journal des Sables. (© Stéphane Crochard)

news Le Mans also gives us magnificent photos.

The Northern Lights adorned the night sky with green and pink in Durtal on the border of Maine-et-Loire and Sarthe.
The Northern Lights adorned the night sky with green and pink in Durtal on the border of Maine-et-Loire and Sarthe. (© Titouan QUIGNON)
Light rays in the sky, like very pale rays of sunlight. And when your eyes get used to it, you can see the colors!
Light rays in the sky, like very pale rays of sunlight. And when the eyes get used to it, we can distinguish the colors! (© Samuel QUIGNON / News Le Mans)

The east of the country was not left out either with photos taken in Besançon and Strasbourg.

Not just in the north of France

If the auroras were mainly expected in the north of the country, they were also observed on the south side, as here in Isère with a photo relayed on X.

Our local editorial staff, news Perpignanalso relayed several photos taken in the Pyrénées-Orientales.

The Northern Lights transformed the sky over the Pyrenees last night.
The Northern Lights transformed the sky over the Pyrenees last night. (© Météo Pyrenees)

Some were able to see it from the Dordogne.

And even in the United Kingdom

And it is not only in France that we have been able to observe these auroras. Photos across Europe have circulated on social media, as well as here in the United Kingdom.

Here in Edinburgh.
Here in Edinburgh. (© Jacob Anderson/AFP/Handout)
Here in London.
Here in London. (© Kris CHENG/AFP/Handout)

“We just woke the kids up to watch the Northern Lights in the garden! “, Iain Mansfield, a political advisor living in Hertford, England, told AFP.

How to explain this phenomenon ?

Conditions linked to a level 5 geomagnetic storm, the maximum level on the scale used, were observed Friday evening, announced the American Oceanic and Atmospheric Observing Agency (NOAA).

This storm is caused by the arrival on Earth of a series of coronal mass ejections from the Sun.

These are “explosions of energetic particles and magnetic fields coming from the sun,” explained Shawn Dahl, of the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), at a press conference Friday afternoon. NOAA.

The storm is expected to continue through the weekend, with the arrival of additional coronal mass ejections, NOAA added. The first of these ejections, “very strong”, reached Earth on Friday around 6:30 p.m. French time.

VShe coronal mass ejections — at least seven of which have been observed directed toward Earth — come from a sunspot about 17 times the diameter of Earth. They move at several hundred kilometers per second.

The Sun is currently close to its peak activity, according to a cycle that returns every 11 years. The last event reaching this level 5 was October 2003an episode dubbed “the Halloween Storms.”

with AFP.

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