Hubert Burda Media

A coronal hole has given us the most intense auroras this month

A coronal hole has given us the most intense auroras this month
Hubert Burda Media

A coronal hole has given us the most intense auroras this month

Aurora lovers, rejoice. This past week and for this month, you'll be enjoying one of the most intense Northern Lights for some time. On Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, people have been recording spectacular light curtains colouring the night sky in vivid shades of green, blue and purples. Iceland even switched off its street lights one night, so residents could clearly see the magnificence of this naturally occurring phenomenon. 

Why this intense? It's due to a massive coronal hole that is currently facing the Earth, and that's blasting the Earth with solar storms. NASA has a video on YouTube showing just how big it is. 

NASA's footage of the massive coronal hole

Coronal holes are areas of the Sun which are cooler. That's because the Sun's corona is not uniform, and it changes due to magnetic fields in the Sun that fluctuate. Coronal holes tend to generate fast solar winds, and are often associated with mass ejections or coronal material, that causes solar storms and when it hits the Earth's atmosphere, causes auroras to appear as it excites the particles in the upper stratosphere. 

To understand just how huge this coronal hole is, here's a Wikipedia photo of the size comparisons of the planets in the Solar System and the Sun. 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

For us, however, solar storms are translated to the most intense auroras we've seen. So if you're hoping to glimpse the Northern Lights before the solar cycle winds down, do it now. 

Video of the Aurora Borealis is courtesy of StormChasingVideo.com

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