Solar Storm Is Sparking Auroras, Here’s How to See Them



  • A powerful G4 solar storm is hitting the Earth with winds as fast as 600 mph. 
  • It sparked brilliant auroras on Sunday night, seen as far as California, Utah, and New Mexico.
  • The storm should prompt northern lights Monday night as well. Here’s how to see them. 

A powerful geomagnetic storm is hitting Earth causing dazzling auroras across the planet that may last until Monday evening.

Auroras were spotted over the weekend in the US, including in North Carolina, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, California, and Oklahoma, per


Auroras seen in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on March 24, 2023.

NWS La Crosse

The spectacle also gave a treat to skygazers globally, with the lights seen across the UK, in the skies over Kyiv, Ukraine, and as far as Victoria, Australia. 

Because of the varying nature of this particular storm, it is difficult to know exactly where the auroras may be visible again tonight.

“The further north you are the better your chances of seeing the aurora tonight,” Daniel Verscharen, an associate professor of space and climate physics at University College London, told Insider in an email. 

“Although this is quite a strong storm, the centre of the auroral activity will remain north of us. This means that people should look northward and mostly near the horizon.”

How to see and snap the auroras

a man takes a selfie while lookign at the Southern lights.

Southern lights in Christchurch on April 24, 2023.


The powerful storm should continue until Monday evening. A G4 storm warning — the second to most powerful level on the geomagnetic storm scale — is in place till about 8 p.m. ET, per the UK Met Office.

The storm was caused by a coronal mass ejection that released fast winds barrelling through space.

Auroras over Sioux Falls

Auroras seen in Sioux Dalls, South Dakota, on March 23, 2023

NWS Sioux Falls

The winds are traveling at more than 600 mph, Mathew Owens, a professor of space physics at the University of Reading, told Insider in an email. 

A man in heavy clothing takes pictures of the southern lights.

A photographer takes pictures of the southern lights on Lake Ellesmere,Christchurch, New Zealand, on April 24, 2023


“Some models predict that this storm will go on for a little bit longer, so it’s definitely worth checking out the sky tonight,” Verscharen said.  

If you have clear skies, head for a place where there is low light pollution, away from city lights.

Ghostly aurora were spotted in DeWitt, Iowa

Auroras seen in DeWitt, Iowa on March 24, 2023.

NWS Quad cities

Prepare for cold weather with blankets and hot beverages. You may have used your phone or looked at screens to get you where you need to go, so be patient, and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. 

You can try to snap pictures of the auroras with a camera, but make sure not to transfer it too quickly from a hot to a cold environment to avoid condensation, according to the Royal Photographic Society.

Auroras seen above a lighthouse.

The northern lights in Whitley Bay, England April 24, 2023.

Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Preset your camera before leaving a warmer space so your fingers don’t get too cold — higher aperture may be better, but you may have to adjust your settings if the aurora is moving quickly (you can find information on how to set SLR cameras here.) 

Storms like this aren’t just pretty

A view from NASA's SDO shows the sun on April 21, 2023. A CME is seen at the surface of the sun.

A view of the sun on April 21 shows the coronal mass ejection that caused the April 24 storm.


Powerful geomagnetic storms are becoming more common as the sun nears a solar maximum, which happens when our star’s poles flip, causing havoc with magnetic fields at the surface of our star.

As the sun’s activity ramps up, we’re also seeing more stunning solar phenomena.

Over the past two months, we’ve seen a plasma vortex swirling like a whirlpool around the solar pole, a massive coronal “hole” in our sun, and a solar “tornado” the size of 14 Earths.

The tornado is shown here on the surface of the sun.

The tornado, near the north pole of the sun.


All of this has increased the number of auroras around Earth, but the bursts of electromagnetic energy from these storms can affect everything from the power grid to GPS signals.

“Space weather can ground flights,” Owens previously told Insider, adding that the Federal Aviation Administration “won’t allow flights if they don’t have both radio and satellite communications.”

Radio signals sent from Earth also need to bounce off the ionosphere to get from one point to the other — that’s less efficient in rough space weather.

green blue and pink light is seen in Germany

Northern lights in Fischbeck, Germany, 24 April 2023.

Cevin Dettlaff/picture alliance via Getty Images

It’s not just the speed of the winds that the scientists are looking at. The current storm also carries a magnetic field orientation that puts us in a precarious position, per Verscharen.

This magnetic field in this storm points southward. Whenever that’s the case, the storm is more likely to disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field, he said. That’s why scientists are keeping a close eye on how this storm evolves.



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