The skies over Estonia were once again the scene of spectacular views of the aurora borealis - the Northern Lights – Saturday night, agricultural weekly Maaleht reports, with some pictures rivaling those taken back in September during another impressive sighting of the phenomenon.
While Saturday night and into early Sunday morning was generally cloudy and overcast, when the cloud did lift, the northern nights were visible, as evidenced by the many photos sent in of the phenomenon by readers.
The northern lights are formed when solar wind, charged particles emanating from the Sun, gets captured by the Earth's magnetic field and drawn towards the poles at a very high speed. For this reason the northern lights, and its southern hemisphere counterpart, the aurora australis, are usually visible at high latitudes, with the sixties to the seventies the sweet zone (Tallinn lies just South of that band), though they have been spotted at considerably lower latitudes at times also.
A coronal mass ejection, a magnetic field and accompanying plasma mass, ejected from the sun's corona into the heliosphere, the sun's outermost atmospheric layer, can lead to enhanced "displays."
Green is the predominant color, though red and blue northern lights are also observed, and indeed were by some of Maaleht's readers last weekend.
Meteorologist Kairo Kiitsak told Maaleht that the northern lights can often only be forecast within hours, or days at most, as it all hinges on recent activities relating to the Sun.
Kiitsak said that coronal mass ejections are usually detected several days before the results make their effects known on Earth, and even then there is no certainty of that happening.
Solar cycle 25 (ie. the 25th cycle since extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began back in 1755) is currently underway and we have not yet reached its peak, which is most likely to come in July 2025, though could be any time between November next year and March 2026 he said.
In any case even more spectacular northern lights may be visible around two years from now.
Editor: Andrew Whyte