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Solar Flares Bring Lightshows To Lapland

posted 13 Nov 2013, 13:30 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Nov 2013, 13:30 ]

A recent increase in solar flare activity is having a spectacular impact here on Earth, with a series of auroras lighting up the skies over the Arctic circle. The Aurora Borealis is produced when electrically charged particles emitted by large solar flares collide with gases in Earth's atmosphere. For professional videographers likeChad Blakely of, the activity has provided an opportunity too good to miss.

ABISKO NATIONAL PARK, SWEDEN (NOVEMBER 9, 2013) (CHAD BLAKELEY) - Videographer Chad Blakeley shot his November 9 time-lapse sequence from Abisko National Park on the northern edge of Sweden. It was the latest in a series of videos he has shot during an unusually active period.

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Blakeley, whose company Lights Over Lapland, offers aurora photo expeditions to the park, says he hopes his footage will inspire interest from amateur photographers. He says recent solar flare activity has produced stunning light shows on an almost nightly basis in recent weeks.

Auroras occur when charged particles emitted by the sun during flare activity, reach Earth's atmosphere and collide with its gases. The most common colour, green, is produced by a collision of particles with oxygen molecules at an altitude of about 60 miles (97 km) above Earth. At 200 miles (320 km), those molecules produce a rare, red aurora, while nitrogen produces blue lights.

The Sun is approaching the midpoint of its solar cycle, which occurs every ten to 13 years and concludes with the reversal of its magnetic field from north to south and vice versa.

Solar flare activity is expected to remain at relatively high levels until then. According to NASA, the reversal is expected to take place at the end of this year.