Can see the pink northern lights if the clouds are not in the way

Composite image

Icelanders might be able to see the Northern Lights that were shining across Europe last night. This is still unlikely, considering the summer brightness and the large cloud cover that is forecast for the country.

A pink sky was shining across Europe due to a geomagnetic storm caused by a coronal eruption in the sun. The storm is not over yet but will probably be over in the next few days,” says the astronomer Sævar Helgi Bragason, who is often called Star-Sævar.

“If it happens that somewhere in Iceland there is a clear sky tonight, then the most likelihood is to see this at 1 am tonight, when the sky is at its darkest,” Star-Sævar tells us.

The pink northern lights were visible in the northern part …

The pink northern lights were visible in the northern part of Italy. Screenshot/www.foto-webcam.eu

Sævar Helgi Bragason or Star-Sævar as he is often called.

Sævar Helgi Bragason or Star-Sævar as he is often called. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

Wouldn’t be as pink

However, it has become rather bright at night this May, which means that it is more difficult for Icelanders to see the northern lights. The pink colour is also rather dim, which makes it possible for the northern lights to be green rather than pink.

“We enjoy the show the least as a result, which is naturally a bit of a shame,” he added.

Because of the Earth's curvature, most people watched the spectacle in the southern hemisphere and were seeing the upper part of the light, so the pictures people took last night were so pink.

What is a geomagnetic storm?

The phenomenon that causes this light show is called a geomagnetic storm and this is the most powerful one in 21 years.

“A geomagnetic storm occurs when the sun throws a very fast solar wind at Earth, and it becomes like a windstorm in space,” Star-Sævar explains. The solar wind then hits Earth’s magnetic field, which then drifts toward Earth “like a washing-line on a windy day,” he says.

“The faster the solarwind shock wave, the more severe the storm will be,” he added. “It’s feared that the geomagnetic storm will be followed by many disruptions to satellites, GPS systems and electrical power networks in the coming days.

It looks like it's cloudy in most parts of Iceland …

It looks like it's cloudy in most parts of Iceland tonight, except perhaps in the East. Map/Veðurstofa Íslands

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