Solar storm causes beautiful skies and new data


22 May 2024

Aurora Australis

The colourful skies awash with the Aurora Australis (Tahu-nui-a-rangi) witnessed by many throughout Aotearoa New Zealand one week ago were caused by a geomagnetic storm or ‘solar storm’.

Driven by the Sun, space weather occurs in the areas between the Sun and other planets in our solar system and tends to impact Earth much higher in the atmosphere than normal weather we experience.

During times of high activity, we can see what’s called coronal mass ejections (CME’s) from the Sun. These are highly energetic charged particles from the Sun’s magnetic field which are catapulted into space. When a CME reach Earth, it affects our magnetic field causing the auroras witnessed by many. These solar storms can also be referred to as a solar tsunami.

Read on as we take a closer look at space weather and see how it’s recorded by our monitoring instruments across the country.

Image credit: The Aurora Australis captured by GNS Sciences’ Bruce Girdwood, from the Wairarapa.

By continuing with this download you agree to abide by the rules laid out in the Terms and conditions/Terms of use listed on this page.

If there are no specific Terms and conditions/Terms of use listed then please refer to our Copyright and Disclaimer page and Privacy Policy page