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Northern lights shine in the Hessian night sky

At night the sky turned colorful. Strong solar activity carried the northern lights as far as Hesse. The rare natural spectacle could be observed in many parts.

On Saturday night, as announced by stargazers and meteorologists, the northern lights appeared over Hesse. The reason for the rare green, purple and pink Northern Lights, which otherwise only appear in the night sky as far as Scandinavia, is a so-called solar storm.

The American Meteorological Service NOAA had already reported this strong solar activity since the beginning of the week. This apparently results in mass ejections from the sun, i.e. huge emissions of so-called plasma.

The reddish-green auroras occur when electrically charged particles are thrown from the sun into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Watching from the dark

The northern lights were particularly visible at night where it is dark – i.e. outside in nature, far away from street lamps or other lights. Elevated places, for example, were well suited for this.

But the weather also had to cooperate for the polar sightings: starry conditions in many parts of Hesse allowed the natural spectacle to be observed over many regions of Hesse, such as over Riedstadt (Groß-Gerau) or the Pferdeskopf near Schmitten-Treisberg (Hochtaunus).

Northern lights at the Leeheim satellite dishes in Riedstadt (Groß-Gerau).

Northern lights in the night sky above the Pferdeskopf near Treisberg (Hochtaunus).

Why so much northern light?

There is a reason why Northern Lights sightings have been increasing in Hesse since autumn. Increased solar activity is responsible for this. It goes through an 11-year cycle with sometimes weak, sometimes strong activity and we are currently moving towards the activity maximum of the current cycle.

This can be recognized by the so-called sunspots. The more spots, the more active the sun. These spots sometimes explode and then send clouds of plasma into space. If the direction is correct, they hit the earth, are captured at the poles and cause particles in the ionosphere to glow – the northern lights are created.

The more plasma that separates from the sun, the more intense the event becomes. In the current case, the first plasma cloud reached Earth in the evening around 8 p.m. – so things are looking good for northern lights at night.

Huge sunspot

The sunspot responsible for this week’s explosive activity and many bursts of solar plasma is gigantic in size. It measures more than 200,000 kilometers from east to west, making it more than 15 times larger than the diameter of the Earth.

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