INTERPLANETARY SHOCK WAVE: An interplanetary shock wave hit Earth’s magnetic field on April 19th around 23:50 UT. When the disturbance arrived, the density of solar wind flowing around our planet abruptly quadrupled and a crack opened in Earth’s magnetic field. The resulting G2-class geomagnetic storm sparked unusual “electric blue” auroras.
“I’ve been flying airplanes for 20 years and photographing aurora for 10 years, but I’ve never seen anything like this before,” reports pilot Matt Melnyk who photographed the display from 39,000 feet:
“Electric blue auroras!” he says. “This was while on a red eye flight from Edmonton to Toronto around 4 am over northern Manitoba. Unbelievable sky. I was able to grab some hasty shots with a cell phone.”
Auroras are usually green–a sign of oxygen. Rare blue auroras are caused by nitrogen molecules. Energetic particles striking N2+ at the upper limits of Earth’s atmosphere can produce an azure glow during intense geomagnetic storms.
The Southern Lights put on a spectacular show across Australasia on Friday night.
Aurora Australis enthusiasts across New Zealand and Australia took some impressive images of the natural light display.
The views were particularly good further south, with some amazing pictures from Canterbury and Otago – as well as in places like Victoria and Tasmania.
Reuben Looi was stoked to capture this image looking down over Lyttelton Harbour. (Christchurch NZ)