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Historic Solar Storm Comes to an End: Spectacular Northern Lights Show Fades Away

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The magnificent display of the Northern Lights that illuminated the skies around the world for three nights is coming to a close as the historic solar storm reaches its conclusion.

According to astrophysicist Eric Lagadec from the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur-UCA, the most striking moments have passed, although there may still be some residual effects following a solar flare on Sunday, they are unlikely to be visible to the naked eye.

The solar particles that triggered a strong geomagnetic storm when they reached Earth on Friday continued affecting its outer atmosphere until dawn on Monday.

In the United States, the alert remained in effect until 2 a.m. (EST) on Monday, as reported by the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Although still possibly visible in places like New York, northern Iowa, and Washington, the Northern Lights were fading, offering a last chance to witness their beauty on Sunday night.

From Austria to California, from Russia to New Zealand, breathtaking photos of blue, orange, or pink auroras graced social media throughout the weekend.

The current event, triggered by solar eruptions known as coronal mass ejections, captivated audiences with its stunning displays of auroras when interacting with Earth’s magnetic field.

As the solar storm origin, a sunspot, now rests on the Sun’s edge, future coronal mass ejections are unlikely to be directed towards Earth, reducing the chances of further visible auroras in the coming days.

Quentin Verspieren, coordinating the ESA‘s space safety program, predicts that the solar storm will gradually diminish in the days ahead, likely bringing the extraordinary cosmic spectacle to an end for now.

While the recent solar storm event is winding down, the unpredictable nature of solar activity could lead to similar storms in the next few years, as the Sun has entered a cycle of heightened solar activity recurring every 11 years.

The solar storm experienced on Friday marked the most severe geomagnetic storm since the 2003 event, labeled as the ‘Halloween storms’ due to their timing.

Although concerns were raised regarding potential disruptions to electrical and communication networks, no major disturbances have been observed yet.

Elon Musk reassured that all Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit withstood the geomagnetic storm, demonstrating resilience in the face of space weather challenges.

While aviation authorities anticipated no significant impacts on air traffic, precautions were advised to anticipate potential disruptions given the potential navigation tool interferences caused by geomagnetic storms.

In China, the Northern Lights were even visible in the northern half of the country following a red alert issued by the Chinese space weather center.

The largest solar storm ever recorded occurred in 1859, known as the Carrington Event, causing severe disruptions to telegraph communications, highlighting the powerful impact that solar activity can have on Earth.

Rachel Adams

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