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Will the northern lights be visible?  – 5 minutes

Will the northern lights be visible? – 5 minutes

Published on 16 December 2023 at 10:29 /©Rosie Orach

Solar storms are the reason why the northern lights illuminate the sky. Experts announce: The strongest solar storm in years has occurred. Will the sky over Austria turn red again because of this?

from Elissa Auer

2 minutes reading time(280 words)

A very special natural spectacle occurred at the beginning of November: the northern lights lit up the sky. This rare phenomenon was particularly evident in Styria and Carinthia. Many readers sent us photos. A local examination showed: a real play of colors in the Austrian sky. But how do the northern lights occur and what weather conditions are necessary for them to become visible at all? We have the expert Christian Mostl, Head of the Austrian Space Weather Office of GeoSphere Austria He was asked about this in Graz. You can read more about this here.

The northern lights are unlikely

NASA announced that the most violent solar storm in years is expected to occur in mid-December. Will the sky shine bright red this weekend too? “It’s the most powerful eruption from the Sun in six years,” Most, a solar storm specialist at GeoSphere Austria, said when asked on 5 Minutes. Despite the enormous power of the solar storm, the expert believes it is unlikely to cause northern lights, as happened in November. For the lights to be visible, the cloud must strike the Earth centrally. But this storm was far from Earth and was expected to hit it sideways, if it happened at all.

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The situation will continue to be monitored

According to NASA’s scoreboard, the arrival time is also very inaccurate, explains the expert. The time window mentioned is the area between today, Friday, December 16, and tomorrow evening, Sunday, December 17. Based on these general conditions, Mostel rates the probability of the northern lights appearing as very low. However, he doesn’t want to completely rule anything out. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Frequently asked questions

Auroras occur when electrically charged particles from the solar wind, mostly electrons but also protons, collide with the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. There they stimulate the air molecules present to glow.


Not every solar storm causes the northern lights. He has to be strong enough. Weather conditions must also cooperate for the lights to be noticed at all. The northern lights are best seen on a clear night in fall, winter, or spring.

This is always different and depends on the strength of the solar cycle. There have been four events so far in 2023. The lights were especially visible during a powerful solar storm in April.