Czech Republic witnesses spectacular display of northern lights

Areas across the Czech Republic, including Prague, saw the most intense display of the northern lights in more than two decades last night. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 11.05.2024 13:16:00 (updated on 11.05.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Locations across the Czech Republic, including Prague, were bathed in the dazzling glow of the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, on Friday evening into Saturday morning. The event could repeat over the following two nights, though overcast skies in Czechia might cloud local visibility on Saturday evening.

According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ), this display was the most vivid since 2003, creating a remarkable celestial event. The ČHMÚ shared some spectacular photos credited to Lukáš Ronge and Jan and Dáša Drahokoupilová from the Czech Republic's Amateur Meteorological Society on social media. Dozens of commenters replied with their own photos.

"One of the strongest aurora borealis in decades is behind us, and 24 hours ago probably few would have guessed what would happen," writes the ČHMÚ on Facebook. "The intensity of the aurora borealis was such that even the inhabitants of the Canary Islands could see it, which is completely unprecedented."

The unique phenomenon was visible across the entire Czech Republic, including Prague, as darkness fell last night. Due to light pollution in major cities, however, the northern lights were most visible in rural areas. The dazzling spectacle was a result of the sun's unusually eruptive activity in recent days, and should continue over the upcoming nights.

"The Earth's geomagnetic field is still very disturbed," notes the ČHMÚ. "Even though the geomagnetic storm has 'weakened' to G3 (it was at its highest G5 overnight), another solar flare is headed our way from the sun. It can push the phenomenon to its highest levels again."

"It is difficult to predict what can await us today and in the following days, but the chances are very high and it cannot be ruled out that the aurora borealis will be just as intense or even more intense [over the coming nights]."

For observers to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, a clear sky and a view of the northern horizon are essential. Astronomer Petr Horálek from the Institute of Physics in Opava advises that it is primarily detectable through photography due to light pollution from cities.

Visibility of the northern lights in Central Europe and the Czech Republic is not rare, but typically very faint, and is often mistaken for light pollution or cloud activity. This weekend's event, however, was a sight to behold, even if not as vivid as activity in the polar regions.

The intensity of the northern lights last night surprised many across the globe, with reports of visibility coming in from locations that rarely witness the phenomenon. The event generated excitement among observers, prompting them to share their photographs and observations on social media.

The geomagnetic storm remains active, leaving the possibility of another dazzling display in the coming days. While cloud cover may hinder visibility in the Czech Republic, local astronomers are hopeful for clear skies to witness the mesmerizing spectacle once again.

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