Updated May 12, 2024 - Science

Northern Lights continue for Mother's Day and beyond

Woman holds smartphone to take photos of aurora and is standing in front of a colorful sky with pink, purple and green shades in sky

It can be difficult to see the Northern Lights with the naked eye so experts suggest taking photos with a smartphone. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images

The ongoing extreme and powerful solar storm has extended the rare chance to see the sky lit up by colorful auroras into another week.

Why it matters: The Northern Lights are expected to return to full strength for Mother's Day, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center said.

  • The celestial light shows are rarely viewable in the U.S. and when they are usually not so widespread or visible as far south.

Solar storm warnings

Threat level: Solar storms have the potential disrupt communications, the electric power grid, and navigation, radio and satellite operations, the prediction center said.

  • There have been reported of power grid irregularities and degradation to high-frequency communications, the center said in an update posted on X Saturday.

Flashback: Extreme G5 geomagnetic conditions were observed reaching the Earth for the first time since 2003 on Friday.

A photo of the sun using a white light solar filter which captures the visible photosphere shows the large are of sun spots and surface activity
A photo of the sun using a white light solar filter which captures the visible photosphere shows the large are of sun spots and surface activity as seen from Oakland, California on May 11, 2024. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Northern Lights forecast for Sunday and beyond

Driving the news: Extreme G5 geomagnetic storm levels are expected Sunday because of coronal mass ejections (CME) conditions, the center said.

  • Strong G3 geomagnetic storming is likely to continue into the early hours of Monday, the center's forecast said.
  • Minor to moderate solar radiation storms are expected through Tuesday, May 14.

What we're watching: The best time to spot auroras is usually between 10pm and 2am local time, the prediction center said.

Purple and green lights from aurora light up sky
Northern Lights illuminate the sky in Rochester, New York on May 11, 2024. Photo: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu via Getty Images

Aurora photo tips: View Northern Lights with phone

The big picture: Viewing an aurora with the naked eye can be difficult and many are using their phone cameras to capture the phenomenon with photos.

  • "Cellphones are much better than our eyes at capturing light," Brent Gordon with the prediction center said Friday.
  • "Just go out your back door and take a picture with a newer cellphone, and you'd be amazed at what you see in that picture versus what you see with your eyes," Gordon said.

Zoom in: Experts recommend adjusting the exposure time and enabling night mode on smartphones when available, USA Today reports.

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