by Noel Kirkpatrick: A cloud of charged solar particles are putting on quite the light show…
Thanks to a strong gust of solar wind over the weekend, the Earth has collided with a cloud of charged particles that have escaped the sun’s atmosphere.
The result? Stunning auroras at both poles of the planet.
The northern and southern lights are the result of the aforementioned solar particles crashing into gaseous particles in our atmosphere. Different gases produce different colors, and certain gases only exist at certain heights in the atmosphere. So, for example, the most common form of the auroras you see are green, and this is the result of oxygen and solar particles mingling at about 60 miles above the Earth.
The next few nights for skywatchers in both the northern and southern hemispheres should be bright with fantastic light shows. In fact, some photographers are already sharing the stunning sights on social media. So if you can’t make it further south or north before the solar storm wraps up, just enjoy the experience vicariously through these images.
If you are lucky enough to be near the auroas as they shine, you can snap a photo with your phone, no problem, but you’re likely better off with a DSLR camera set atop a tripod, according to Aurora Service. Once you adjust the camera for a manual focus and up your shutter speed, you should be able to take some beautiful shots of the lights.