Weekend Light Show | God's World News

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Weekend Light Show
News Shorts
Posted: May 13, 2024
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    People look at the northern lights in Estacada, Oregon, on May 10, 2024. (AP/Jenny Kane)
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    The northern lights, or aurora borealis, illuminate the night sky over Lake Balaton, near Fonyod, Hungary, on May 10, 2024. (Gyorgy Varga/MTI via AP)
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    The northern lights usually look brighter farther north. Here they are in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, on May 11, 2024. (Hina Alam/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    Northern lights shine over Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on May 10, 2024. (AP/Caleb Jones)
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    People watch the northern lights at Lake Washington in Renton, Washington, on May 10, 2024. (AP/Lindsey Wasson)
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Stargazers looked up at the night sky over the weekend. Beautiful colors shone. Those are the northern lights. Most of the time, people see these only in—you guessed it—the north. But this time, the lights were visible much farther south than usual.

People saw purple, green, yellow, and pink hues. In the United States, the lights showed up as far south as Fort Lauderdale, Florida! People all over the country snapped photos of bright colors along the horizon. Skywatchers also spotted the lights around the world from Spain to Germany to China.

The northern lights are also called the aurora borealis. They usually appear in Iceland and northern parts of Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Alaska, and Russia. But sometimes, big solar storms supercharge them. That makes them viewable farther south.

During the weekend’s powerful solar storm, the Sun produced strong solar flares. It put out bursts of plasma. Plasma is the super-hot, electrically charged gas that makes up the Sun. Each eruption can contain huge amounts of plasma. Those flares throw out charged atoms. Some hit gases in Earth’s atmosphere. Auroras appear!

The flares seemed to come from a giant sunspot, scientists say. That darker spot on the Sun is HUGE. Imagine cutting the Earth in half. Measure it from edge to edge. This sunspot measures 16 times that!

The Sun goes through 11-year cycles of activity. The current cycle started in 2019. The Sun will have many solar flares and sunspots this year and maybe next year. Then its activity will start slowing down again until next cycle.

Did you miss the light show? Next time you hear about a solar storm or a geomagnetic storm, take a look outside. You may have another opportunity to see the northern lights. In the meantime, read about another unusual showing of the northern lights here.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. — Psalm 19:1