Warning issued as 'extreme' solar storm behind the Northern Lights is declared a 'Level 5'

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By stefan armitage

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The Northern and Southern Lights may have dazzled people across the globe on Friday night, but now a warning has been issued for the cause of the celestial spectacle.

Logging onto social media this morning probably meant that you were hit by countless photos of the incredible Northern and Southern Lights that lit up the night's sky on Friday.

If you missed the dazzling display, don't worry, because experts are hopeful that the Lights will return on Saturday night.

READ MORE: Experts Share The Best Tips To See The Northern And Southern Lights As They Will Return On Saturday

However, despite being a heavenly sight that is on many of our bucket lists, the cause of the aurora borealis and aurora australis is a lot more scientific.

Credit: Andrew Chin / Getty

Per BBC News, the phenomenon was the result of one of the strongest geomagnetic storms for over 20 years hitting the Earth. And when charged light particles from the Sun collide with our planet's atmospheric gases, they energize atoms and molecules, causing them to emit light.

The storm was so strong, millions of people in the US, UK, and across the globe were able to see the Lights for the very first time.

But now there are concerns about how strong the geomagnetic storm has become.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Space Weather Prediction Center has declared Friday's "unusual" solar event an "extreme" G5 geomagnetic storm, CBS News reports.

The Aurora Forecast from Saturday night's events. Credit: NOAA

From a scale of G1 to G5, G5 is the highest, with the NOAA detailing how the solar storm could impact power systems on Earth and even space satellite operations.

"Widespread voltage control problems and protective system problems can occur, some grid systems may experience complete collapse or blackouts. Transformers may experience damage," the NOAA website states.

Spacecraft operations "may experience extensive surface charging, problems with orientation, uplink/downlink and tracking satellites," the Center adds.

Issues can also occur to pipeline currents, satellite navigation, and "low-frequency radio navigation".

Fortunately, the Northern and Southern Lights are completely harmless to humans.

It was 21 years ago in October 2003 that the planet saw the last G5 geomagnetic storm. CBS News reports how that storm damaged transformers in South Africa and resulted in power outages across Sweden.

The Northern Lights attracts a crowd in England. Credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty

But, on a positive not, more and more people will be seeing the Northern and Southern Lights for the very first time, with Friday's dazzling displaying reaching as far south as Alabama and northern California in the United States.

People across the globe took to social media to share their incredible experiences, with those who missed out hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary displays later tonight. More information can be seen below...

What are the Northern Lights?


The awe-inspiring phenomenon manifests as vibrant, swirling curtains of light dancing across the night sky, displaying a mesmerizing array of colors ranging from emerald green to rosy pink and fiery scarlet.

This celestial spectacle is created by the interaction of charged particles from the Sun with gases in the Earth's atmosphere. As these charged particles collide with atmospheric gases, they energize atoms and molecules, causing them to emit light.

The Northern Lights over Rochester, New York. Credit: Anadolu / Getty

The distinct colors of the aurora are a result of different gases in the Earth's atmosphere being energized by the incoming charged particles. Nitrogen and oxygen are the two most abundant gases in the atmosphere, with oxygen atoms emitting predominantly green light - the most common color observed in the Northern Lights. 

Nitrogen atoms, on the other hand, emit hues of purple, blue, and pink.


The most breathtaking displays of auroras occur when the Sun releases large clouds of particles known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which intensify the interaction between solar particles and Earth's magnetic field, amplifying the brilliance and extent of the auroral displays.

Featured image credit: Anadolu / Getty

Warning issued as 'extreme' solar storm behind the Northern Lights is declared a 'Level 5'

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

The Northern and Southern Lights may have dazzled people across the globe on Friday night, but now a warning has been issued for the cause of the celestial spectacle.

Logging onto social media this morning probably meant that you were hit by countless photos of the incredible Northern and Southern Lights that lit up the night's sky on Friday.

If you missed the dazzling display, don't worry, because experts are hopeful that the Lights will return on Saturday night.

READ MORE: Experts Share The Best Tips To See The Northern And Southern Lights As They Will Return On Saturday

However, despite being a heavenly sight that is on many of our bucket lists, the cause of the aurora borealis and aurora australis is a lot more scientific.

Credit: Andrew Chin / Getty

Per BBC News, the phenomenon was the result of one of the strongest geomagnetic storms for over 20 years hitting the Earth. And when charged light particles from the Sun collide with our planet's atmospheric gases, they energize atoms and molecules, causing them to emit light.

The storm was so strong, millions of people in the US, UK, and across the globe were able to see the Lights for the very first time.

But now there are concerns about how strong the geomagnetic storm has become.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Space Weather Prediction Center has declared Friday's "unusual" solar event an "extreme" G5 geomagnetic storm, CBS News reports.

The Aurora Forecast from Saturday night's events. Credit: NOAA

From a scale of G1 to G5, G5 is the highest, with the NOAA detailing how the solar storm could impact power systems on Earth and even space satellite operations.

"Widespread voltage control problems and protective system problems can occur, some grid systems may experience complete collapse or blackouts. Transformers may experience damage," the NOAA website states.

Spacecraft operations "may experience extensive surface charging, problems with orientation, uplink/downlink and tracking satellites," the Center adds.

Issues can also occur to pipeline currents, satellite navigation, and "low-frequency radio navigation".

Fortunately, the Northern and Southern Lights are completely harmless to humans.

It was 21 years ago in October 2003 that the planet saw the last G5 geomagnetic storm. CBS News reports how that storm damaged transformers in South Africa and resulted in power outages across Sweden.

The Northern Lights attracts a crowd in England. Credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty

But, on a positive not, more and more people will be seeing the Northern and Southern Lights for the very first time, with Friday's dazzling displaying reaching as far south as Alabama and northern California in the United States.

People across the globe took to social media to share their incredible experiences, with those who missed out hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary displays later tonight. More information can be seen below...

What are the Northern Lights?


The awe-inspiring phenomenon manifests as vibrant, swirling curtains of light dancing across the night sky, displaying a mesmerizing array of colors ranging from emerald green to rosy pink and fiery scarlet.

This celestial spectacle is created by the interaction of charged particles from the Sun with gases in the Earth's atmosphere. As these charged particles collide with atmospheric gases, they energize atoms and molecules, causing them to emit light.

The Northern Lights over Rochester, New York. Credit: Anadolu / Getty

The distinct colors of the aurora are a result of different gases in the Earth's atmosphere being energized by the incoming charged particles. Nitrogen and oxygen are the two most abundant gases in the atmosphere, with oxygen atoms emitting predominantly green light - the most common color observed in the Northern Lights. 

Nitrogen atoms, on the other hand, emit hues of purple, blue, and pink.


The most breathtaking displays of auroras occur when the Sun releases large clouds of particles known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which intensify the interaction between solar particles and Earth's magnetic field, amplifying the brilliance and extent of the auroral displays.

Featured image credit: Anadolu / Getty