Solar storm slams into Earth and sparks stunning northern lights display (photos)

the curtains of light from the aurora borealis rain down towards the camera shining green and blue.
Aurora outburst above Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada captured by photographer and stormchaser Jo Majko. (Image credit: Jo Majko)

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

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). 

Related: Aurora myths, legends and misconceptions

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 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. 

Related: Aurora colors: What causes them and why do they vary?

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."

You can see more of Kiitsak's mesmerizing aurora photographs on Twitter and Facebook

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. 

Aurora above Snaefellsnes peninsula, Iceland. (Image credit: Craig Darnall)

This was my first time witnessing the Aurora Borealis and was absolutely mesmerized during the event." Darnall told 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, 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). 

Northern lights over southern Ontario, photographed by Nathan Barker. (Image credit: Nathan Barker)

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 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.

Northern lights above Lossiemouth West Beach, Moray, Scotland, photographed by Stephen Howells (Image credit: Stephen Howells)

"I've seen the aurora many times since moving to Scotland and this is in my top 3 events in 7 years." Howells told 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.

pillars of purple/pink and green lights rise up towards the sky and are reflected in the water below.

Aurora borealis over Lake Huron and Port Elgin Marina, near the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada.  (Image credit: 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 and our news partners for a story or gallery, send your images to 

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Daisy Dobrijevic
Reference Editor

Daisy Dobrijevic joined in February 2022 having previously worked for our sister publication All About Space magazine as a staff writer. Before joining us, Daisy completed an editorial internship with the BBC Sky at Night Magazine and worked at the National Space Centre in Leicester, U.K., where she enjoyed communicating space science to the public. In 2021, Daisy completed a PhD in plant physiology and also holds a Master's in Environmental Science, she is currently based in Nottingham, U.K. Daisy is passionate about all things space, with a penchant for solar activity and space weather. She has a strong interest in astrotourism and loves nothing more than a good northern lights chase!