March 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Picture of the Day: The Most Incredible Aurora of 2012

by twistedsifter




northern lights aurora borealis in iceland Picture of the Day: The Most Incredible Aurora of 2012

Photograph courtesy of Jónína Óskarsdóttir for NASA


In this absolutely incredible image by Jónína Óskarsdóttir, we see an aurora spotted on March 8, 2012, shimmering over snow-covered mountains in Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland. Geomagnetic storms due to coronal mass ejections (CMEs) earlier in the week have increased in strength, and are now rated a G3 on a scale from G1 to G5.

This space weather is due to the March 7 activity from the sun that caused rapid changes to the shape of Earth’s magnetosphere – the bubble of protective magnetic fields surrounding the planet — resulting in a geomagnetic storm. As of March 8, the storm was fairly mild since the magnetic fields from the CMEs were partially aligned with Earth’s own and thus slid around the magnetosphere.

However, the geomagnetic storm has increased because the magnetic fields of the CMEs have now changed direction such that they can more easily deposit magnetic energy and radiation into Earth’s environment. To read more about the recent geomagnetic storm, check out this post on NASA.

And if you’re loving this magical photograph as much as the Sifter is, you can find the high resolution image here. What a sight!