Updated May 11, 2024 - Science

In photos: Northern Lights light up the sky

Different shades of pinks and greens light up the sky because of the Aurora borealis or Northern Lights.

The Aurora borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights, lights up the sky in Manning Park, British Columbia, Canada on May 11, 2024. Photo: Andrew Chin/Getty Images

The most powerful solar storm in more than 20 years struck Earth Friday triggering breathtaking celestial shows of the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora borealis, around the globe.

Why it matters: Extreme G5 geomagnetic conditions were observed reaching the Earth for the first time since 2003, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center said.

  • The storm has the potential to disrupt communications, the electric power grid, and navigation, radio and satellite operations.

Northern Lights forecast 2024

Driving the news: The Space Weather Prediction Center said Saturday that the "threat of additional strong flares" and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) "will remain until the large and magnetically complex sunspot cluster (NOAA region 3664) rotates out of view over the next several days."

  • There have been some "reports of power grid irregularities and degradation to high-frequency communications and GPS," the center said Saturday.
  • NOAA also said there have been reports of more X-class solar flares from a sunspot cluster that has been "responsible for much of the geomagnetic storming and associated events over the past few days."

What we're watching: "Overnight, aurora were visible across much of the United States," the center said in its Saturday forecast. "Weather permitting, they may be visible again tonight."

Aurora borealis in photos

The big picture: Photos from around the world show beautiful and bright sky with pink, purple, green and other colors from auroras.

Context: In the Southern Hemisphere, it's known as the Southern Lights or Aurora australis.

Night sky with pink aurora visible in Atlanta, Georgia
Friday night's sky in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios
The Aurora borealis and setting Moon as seen late Friday night from Albany, New York.
The Aurora borealis and setting Moon as seen late Friday night from Albany, New York. Photo: Alex Fitzpatrick/Axios
The sky had shades of red and orange because of a strong solar storm
Unusual sun activity created a G5 Geostorm on Earth sparked an Aurora borealis in Mount Mitchell, North Carolina on May 10, 2024. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu via Getty Images
Shades of purples, pink light up the sky
Northern Lights illumination were visible in purple and green color bands from the Dutch countryside. Winterle, Netherlands on May 11, 2024 Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The Northern Lights brought green lights to the New York sky
Northern Lights illuminated the sky in Rochester, New York on May 11, 2024. Photo: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu via Getty Images
Northern lights or aurora borealis illuminate the night sky with shades of pink and purple
Northern Lights illuminate the night sky north of San Francisco in Middletown, California on May 11, 2024. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images
Northern Lights light up sky with shades of red, orange, yellow and some green
A photographer takes pictures of the Aurora australis, also known as the Southern Lights, over waters of Lake Ellesmere on the outskirts of Christchurch on May 11, 2024. Photo: Sanka Vidanagama AFP via Getty Images

Go deeper: How to see the Northern Lights in the U.S. this weekend

Editor's note: This story was updated with an updated forecast Saturday and additional photo.

Go deeper