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  Opinion   Edit  13 May 2024  AA Edit | A colourful celestial spectacle

AA Edit | A colourful celestial spectacle

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : May 14, 2024, 12:05 am IST
Updated : May 14, 2024, 12:05 am IST

Rare G5 geomagnetic storm delights spectators worldwide with stunning auroras

Northern lights or aurora borealis illuminate the night sky over a camper's tent north of San Francisco in Middletown, California on May 11, 2024. The most powerful solar storm in more than two decades struck Earth, triggering spectacular celestial light shows from Tasmania to Britain -- and threatening possible disruptions to satellites and power grids as it persists into the weekend. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP)
 Northern lights or aurora borealis illuminate the night sky over a camper's tent north of San Francisco in Middletown, California on May 11, 2024. The most powerful solar storm in more than two decades struck Earth, triggering spectacular celestial light shows from Tasmania to Britain -- and threatening possible disruptions to satellites and power grids as it persists into the weekend. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP)

Many of the 8 billion people around the world have never seen anything quite like this. A rare G5 geomagnetic storm, said to be not seen since 2003, is supercharging the celestial lights around the world with such power that those living in milder latitudes are seeing the phenomenon for the first time in their lives, joining their colleagues in extreme latitudes who have been accustomed to this annual night sky treat all their lives.

Ladakh residents too have been treated this season to the aurora borealis as splashes of pinks, purples, greens, and the reds have been dancing in the sky. Their altitude as well as the absence of a city’s light pollution may have rendered them so fortunate as to be awestruck spectators in this divine show comprising more colours than on a television tube or computer monitor.

Those in the southern hemisphere too have been treated to their ‘southern lights’ or ‘aurora australis’ as the Sun, the centre of our universe, has blessed billions of people with a free spectacle of dancing lights in the sky. Two sunspot clusters, one in the north and one in the south, have been unleashing these flares, some of them as strong as X5.8.

What used to be restricted to the Arctic region has become a more universal phenomenon thanks to the unusual strength of the solar flares as the Sun is currently in a most active phase of its 11-year cycle in a ‘solar maximum’ and letting off explosive coronal mass ejections.

Scientists are preening as they explain the phenomenon to laymen and recount the blessings of the year’s colourful auroras. This celestial spectacle has also come without too many of the fears around solar flares becoming so serious as to cause concern. They didn’t affect the astronauts in the international space station nor were there reports of satellites or big power grids suffering though radio blackouts may have occurred in places.

Man needs little reminder of the power of the Sun in the Milky Way galaxy as his ancestors may have worshipped this cosmic power as a god. That the lights phenomenon is a beautiful spectacle without any bothersome side effects points to a benevolent superstar of the solar system who is acting as a super vivid visual entertainer for billions in an incredible light show.

 

 

Tags: aa edit, aurora borealis, northern lights