March 22 Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2022 March 22

A Whale of an Aurora over Swedish Forest

Image Credit & Copyright: Göran Strand

Explanation: What’s that in the sky? An aurora. A large coronal mass ejection occurred on our Sun earlier this month, throwing a cloud of fast-moving electrons, protons, and ions toward the Earth. Part of this cloud impacted our Earth’s magnetosphere and, bolstered by a sudden gap, resulted in spectacular auroras being seen at some high northern latitudes. Featured here is a particularly photogenic auroral corona captured above a forest in Sweden from a scenic perch overlooking the city of Östersund. To some, this shimmering green glow of recombining atmospheric oxygen might appear like a large whale, but feel free to share what it looks like to you. The unusually quiet Sun of the past few years has now passed. As our Sun now approaches a solar maximum in its 11-year solar magnetic cycle, dramatic auroras like this are sure to continue.

 

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