Skip to main content

Stunning Northern Lights shine amid solar storm (photos)

Auroras can be generated when the sun belches out particles that hit the Earth's upper atmosphere.
(Image credit: Terry Zaperach/NASA, CC BY-SA)

Particles screaming into Earth's atmosphere from the sun created beautiful northern lights across northern high latitudes of our planet late Sunday (Aug. 7) and early Monday (Aug. 8).

Skywatchers in Canada and the United Kingdom were among those that got to enjoy the stunning auroras, generated after charged particles blasted from the sun and interacted with Earth's upper atmosphere.

See more

"Great to have another visit from the northern lights, a.k.a. Aurora Borealis here at Brancaster Staithe in North Norfolk early this morning," Gary Pearson, a photographer near the northeastern coast of Britain, tweeted (opens in new tab) of the storm.

Thousands of kilometers away in Manitoba, Canada, the storm created shimmers of purple and green on the horizon. "Amazing colors and structures," tweeted (opens in new tab) Deb Maluk after witnessing the storm there.

Related: Hyperactive sunspot just hurled a huge X-class solar flare into space

See more
See more

The event was a "surprise geomagnetic storm," SpaceWeather stated (opens in new tab), after a stream of solar particles hit the Earth on Sunday. The velocity sped up to 373 miles a second (600 km/s), which was enough to cause a moderate-sized G2 class storm despite it not being forecast.

If you need equipment to capture the best aurora, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography to make sure you're ready. We also have a beginner's guide on how to photograph the aurora.

If you captured a stunning photo of the northern lights let us know! You can send in images and comments to Space.com by emailing spacephotos@space.com. Be sure to let us know your name, where you were observing from and what it was like to see the auroras.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.