Astronomy news: Auroras seen in spectacular detail as coronavirus brings planes to a halt

The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the aviation industry virtually to a halt across the world. And while aviation firms will feel the financial implications of the pandemic, astronomers are using the opportunity to view the night sky without many of the usual distractions.

No more so than those in Norway, who are regularly treated to stunning auroras, and the swirling patterns in the sky have not stopped for coronavirus.

Aurora tour guide Marianne Bergli, from Tromsø, Norway, has managed to capture stunning images of the northern lights in the wake of a lack of aviation activity, and shared her images with Space Weather.

She told the cosmic forecasting site Space Weather: "With the coronavirus at its peak there is zero tourism in Norway.

"But last night the dog needed to go out and as we were walking her, this splendid show appeared in the skies above.

"My youngest daughter Sara thinks she can talk to the aurora and asks the 'corona gods' to lift this deadly virus, so that we can enjoy life as it's meant to be.

"One good thing is, no matter where you go here in Tromsø, we have the complete area to ourselves--just the way I used to be when I was a child."

Auroras, which include northern lights – aurora borealis – and southern lights – aurora australis, are caused when solar particles hit the atmosphere.

As the magnetosphere gets bombarded by solar winds, stunning blue lights can appear as that layer of the atmosphere deflects the particles.

However, researchers also note the consequences of a solar storm and space weather can extend beyond northern or southern lights.

For the most part, the Earth’s magnetic field protects humans from the barrage of radiation which comes from sunspots, but solar storms can affect satellite-based technology.

Solar winds can heat the Earth’s outer atmosphere, causing it to expand.

This can affect satellites in orbit, potentially leading to a lack of GPS navigation, mobile phone signal and satellite TV such as Sky.

Additionally, a surge of particles can lead to high currents in the magnetosphere, which can lead to higher than normal electricity in power lines, resulting in electrical transformers and power stations blow outs and a loss of power.

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