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Geomagnetic storm and auroras

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Auroras are beautiful to watch. But what are they?

Renaud Toussaint, director of the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences (ITES) in Strasbourg, developed a passion for auroras since living in Norway.

During a geomagnetic storm from 10th to 12th May, he reported live updates on the School and Observatory of Earth Sciences of the University of Strasbourg website. Observing from his home in Aube (Great East area) on 10th May, he captured over a hundred photos of the intense auroras from 11 pm to 2 am.
Toussaint notes that such auroras are rare in France and often go unnoticed. The phenomenon occurs when solar flares send plasma towards the Earth, interacting with oxygen molecules in the atmosphere to emit light. Red light is produced at altitudes above 240 km, while green light is emitted at lower altitudes. The recent auroras were visible as far south as Namibia.
Toussaint predicts more auroras in the coming years, as the current solar cycle peaks in 2025. Despite their beauty, auroras can impact satellite communications and power grids. There is no health risk except for astronauts outside the magnetosphere.

Want to know more? Read the article on Savoir(s), Le quotidien de l’Université de Strasbourg