A sunspot that “woke from the dead” last week and erupted with a medium-sized solar flare, accompanied by a massive plasma ejection, also lit up the northern sky with glowing lights. A stunning image of the effect showed the aurora appearing to rain through the clouds above Iceland.
The rays of this aurora shone near Goðafoss waterfall, located about 45 minutes from Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city.
“The window of nighttime darkness is rapidly shrinking here at 65.7 degrees north latitude, just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle, making the spectacle of the aurora all the more precious,” said photographer Todd. Salat, from AuroraHunter.com, to SpaceWeather.com.
“Soon the summer sunlight will make it too difficult to see the lights until fall,” Salat continued. A near-full moon was also vying for bright space here, but those Icelandic auroras wouldn’t be denied.”
The bright aurora borealis was generated by a medium-sized solar storm, associated with an explosion of solar particles observed by satellites. The exploding sunspot was poetically dubbed “dead” because it had recently erupted and is part of a quiet sunspot. Even so, as these solar particles interacted with Earth’s magnetic field lines, air molecules high in the atmosphere were excited, producing the incredible spectacle of the sky.
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On Facebook, Salat told viewers it was the first time he had seen auroras of this magnitude during a planned two-week trip to Iceland from his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. It was the ninth night of Salat in Iceland, and he had only seen glimpses of the Northern Lights before that. Then the weather turned.
“I broke camp earlier in the day in light rain, and the weather forecast called for clouds and scattered showers for all of Iceland for the whole week. I had told myself not to take this prediction to heart because it can [be] so demoralizing,” Salat said.
While tempted to “put away the aurora cameras”, during a car ride, he came across the waterfall. He was taking test shots when he spotted a glow between the clouds.
“I picked up my pace, and when I saw a spike developing, I went into a full sprint until my lungs were burning to get into position for this comp. Boom, 11:47 p.m., maybe being the best aurora photo of the trip up to this point went into the game bag, and I was ecstatic.”
Salat saw the clouds temporarily seal off the view, but around 2 a.m. local time they reopened briefly, allowing him to take a few more photos.
“I’ve been on many Northern Lights hunts in life, but I don’t know if I’ve ever ‘worked’ as hard to get the photos I did for these,” he said. he sued on Facebook. “I’m 3,336 miles away [5,369 km] from my home in Anchorage, Alaska and living in an RV. I’m glad it’s not forever, but I love it and encourage living in the present. It’s time to hit the road and see what’s around the next corner.”
Article originally published on LiveScience.