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Gorgeous purple and gold auroras light up the sky in these stunning images taken during a geomagnetic storm.
Astrophotographer Ruslan Merzlyakov captured several images of the intense light show over Mors island in northern Denmark on Earth Day, or April 22.
“On [the] ground it was stormy – strong wind with average speed of 20 meters per second,” Merzlyakov told Space.com in an email. “My carbon tripod was nearly blown away.” [Aurora Photos: Amazing Displays from Solar Storms]
Vivid northern lights like those seen in this image are caused by charged particles from the sun (the solar wind) that interact with the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The Earth’s magnetic field draws these charged particles to either the north or south pole, resulting in the aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights). [Infographic: How the Northern Lights Work]
During a solar storm, or a space weather event, an increase in charged particles flowing from the sun can cause brighter and more active auroras that are visible over regions farther away from Earth’s poles than usual. These events are known as “geomagnetic storms” and can have damaging effects on Earth’s electrical systems, GPS and communication satellites and more.
On the day of Merzlyakov’s photo shoot, the Space Weather Prediction Center had issued a warning about a moderate geomagnetic storm. It was likely the result of a coronal mass ejection NASA discovered just a few days sooner. This caused the northern lights to appear even more vibrant than usual — an astrophotographer’s dream!
Merzlyakov captured these views with a Canon EOS 6D camera and a Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lens, using 30-second exposures.
You can see more amazing night sky photos by our readers in our astrophotography archive here.
Editor’s note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you’d like to share with us and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.