A powerful solar storm slammed into Earth on Sept. 18 and 19, triggering stunning aurora shows around the world.
Aurora enthusiasts can thank a massive solar tendril, called a solar filament, for the stunning light show. On Saturday (Sept. 16), it emerged from the sun and ejected a super-hot plasma eruption, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), toward Earth. The CME caused a disturbance in Earth's magnetic field, resulting in a geomagnetic storm that triggered auroras visible as far south as Colorado (+40.4N), Missouri (+40.3N) and Nebraska (+41N), according to Spaceweather.com.
During a solar storm, energized particles from the sun slam into Earth's atmosphere at speeds of up to 45 million mph (72 million kph) and our planet's magnetic field then funnels the particles toward the poles. The supercharging of molecules in Earth's atmosphere triggers the colorful spectacles, which usually remain limited to areas near the poles at high latitudes for the aurora borealis (northern lights) and low latitudes for the aurora australis (southern lights).
Kairo Kiitsak, meteorologist and hobby nature photographer captured these stunning aurora images from eastern Estonia, close to Liigvalla and Räitsvere.
"The northern lights amazed us with a really stunning display", Kiitsak told Space.com in an email.
"The colors of aurora were really vivid this time, It doesn't happen very often that you get to see all the colors," Kiitsak continued.
Kiitsak has been observing and photographing the northern lights for nine years and took his first photo in 2014.
"I never get tired of watching them." Kiitsak continued.
"Each display is special and eye-catching in its own way. We are currently moving towards the maximum of solar activity, exciting times are still ahead for the northern lights observers."
Craig Darnall witnessed and photographed his first-ever aurora light show during the recent outburst, while on a trip with his wife on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, Iceland.
This was my first time witnessing the Aurora Borealis and was absolutely mesmerized during the event." Darnall told Space.com in an email.
"It's like watching flames dance in a fire- it's totally captivating. Nothing else at that moment can break your gaze from the entrancing movement." Darnall continued.
Launch photographer for NASASpaceFlight.com, Nathan Barker, shifted his attention from rocket launches to the northern lights and took some incredible photographs over southern Ontario, Canada.
"A dazzlingly display of the Aurora Borealis as it danced across the sky last night over southern Ontario." Barker wrote on X (formally known as Twitter).
Jo Majko, photographer and stormchaser caught the aurora outburst between 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 18, at Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada.
"I normally see them here in a brighter shade of green and was surprised when they appeared in the shade of green it had a slightly bluish tinge to it," Majko told Space.com in an email. "The violet highlights were quite striking as well and it was also a shade of violet I'm not accustomed to seeing in the auroras out here because it's usually highlighted with more red than anything."
Majko was fortunate enough to witness the beautiful curtains of light dance above and around him. "It's always the most wonderful thing to see them like this because it has a way of making you feel so small on the grand scale of things and is such a very humbling experience." Majko continued.
Amateur photographer Stephen Howells photographed the impressive aurora display at Lossiemouth West Beach, Moray, Scotland.
"I've seen the aurora many times since moving to Scotland and this is in my top 3 events in 7 years." Howells told Space.com in an email.
"I had been keeping my eye on the stats all day and knew it was going to be good as soon as it went dark. Arriving at the beach 20 minutes before I could make out rays already and was excited for what unfolded." Howells continued.
Photographer, North Coast Snapper witnessed the northern lights at Dunluce Castle Co Antrim Northern Ireland between 9:30 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. local time on Sept. 18. They managed to capture these beautiful photographs just before the clouds completely covered the sky.
This vibrant, colorful display of northern lights over Lake Huron and Port Elgin Marina, Ontario, was captured by aurora and storm chaser Scott Rock Photography.
We can expect more extreme space weather events like this powerful geomagnetic storm as the sun builds towards a peak in its 11-year solar activity cycle, expected to occur in 2025.
If these beautiful photographs have inspired you to get out and try and capture some for yourself, we have some helpful guides on how to photograph the aurora and the best equipment for aurora photography to help get you started.
Editor's note: If you've taken an amazing photo of the northern lights and would like to share it with Space.com and our news partners for a story or gallery, send your images to firstname.lastname@example.org.