How and when to see the aurora borealis from huge solar storms hitting Earth

The aurora borealis could light up the skies in some northern US states this weekend as charged particles from the sun collide with the earth, providing an opportunity for great nighttime photos.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (SWPC) Space Weather Prediction Center issued an alert Thursday, warning of the possibility of two geomagnetic storms on Friday and Saturday.

A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of the Earth’s magnetic field, and it often occurs when the Sun shoots a cloud of charged particles onto our planet. These clouds are known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

geomagnetic storms They can have all kinds of effects and come in varying strengths. The one likely to happen on Friday is the lowest on the SWPC scale, which goes from G1 to G5. Another stronger G2 storm is expected on Saturday.

aurora borealis
File photo of the aurora borealis in the sky in Alaska. The aurora borealis are emitted from clouds of charged particles coming from the sun.
Elizabeth M. Ruggiero/Getty

The potential impact of storms – particularly Storm G2 – is power grid fluctuations, increased drag for satellites in low Earth orbit, degradation of high-frequency radio signals, and the occurrence of aurora borealis at lower-than-normal latitudes. This means that it may be possible to see a file Northern lights In states like New York, Wisconsin and Washington, the SWPC said.

However, this is likely to depend on the presence of clear and dark night skies in areas free from light pollution.

Twilight may not happen, but if it does, they can. amazing views And color photos if taken the right way. Fortunately, there are resources online to help budding night photographers get the most out of whatever twilights occur.

The critical component of aurora photography is having a camera with a manual mode that allows the user to edit capture options for longer exposure times, such as shutter speed, f-stop, and ISO. Longer exposure times mean the camera is better able to capture the light it sees, bringing out details of the night and color that no human observer might notice. Additionally, a tripod will be essential to keep the images free from blur.

photography website Dave Morrow Photography It recommends that minimum f-stop values ​​ranging from f/2.8 to f/4 are good for photographing the aurora borealis. F-stop values ​​control the size of the camera’s aperture and therefore the amount of light entering the lens.

The shutter speed controls how long the camera allows itself to be exposed to light before the photo is taken. Longer shutter speeds mean brighter images, but they can also result in blurring. Dave Morrow Photography states that shutter speeds of 1-15 seconds are recommended for photographing the aurora borealis.

The ISO value is the sensitivity of the camera to light. According to space news site Space.com, a good ISO value for photographing aurora is between 800 and 2500, with a lower value representing a lower sensitivity.

The main things to focus on are how bright the aurora is and how fast it moves, so experimentation will be helpful. Just remember to remove the lens cap.

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