A strong eruption on the sun led to the red and green luminous effects in the atmosphere on Monday night, which can otherwise only be seen in northern Scandinavia or Iceland: polar lights. The natural spectacle was particularly easy to see in dark places in Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt, but also in Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Hesse. People in Thuringia and Brandenburg also post photos on social media.
The rare sky spectacle in Germany was confirmed, among others, by the director of the Berlin planetarium at the Insulaner and the Wilhelm Foerster Observatory, Monika Staesche. According to Staesche, increased auroral activity is also to be expected in Germany on Tuesday night. The glow is more likely to be seen in darker areas. In brightly lit cities such as Berlin, this is unlikely due to light pollution.
According to Staesche, so-called solar storms are responsible for the greenish or reddish glow. In the process, electrically charged particles are ejected from the sun. If this happens in the direction of earth, the particles can reach us. They need about one and a half to two days to cover the distance of around 150 million kilometers. When they enter the earth's atmosphere, they glow. With normal solar activity, the auroras can only be seen at higher latitudes.
Because auroras are caused by solar storms, they will be even more visible as the sun's activity increases between 2023 and 2025. They are electrically charged particles that enter the earth's atmosphere and collide with oxygen and nitrogen. In doing so, they release energy in the form of light.
"What's glowing there are air molecules, either oxygen or nitrogen," explained Staesche. These are briefly charged by the electrically charged particles. "Then when they fall back to a neutral state, they emit that energy as such a glow."
Anyone who observes the northern lights likes to think about the myths that surround them. The Vikings believed that the Northern Lights were reflections off the Valkyries' shields as they rode to Valhalla. For the Inuit, they are ancestral messages. The Sami ask never to yell at Northern Lights. They could take offense at that. So better smile when you see the next ones.
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