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Northern Lights captured in spectacular photos above France

The phenomenon occurs this far south every 10 to 20 years

The incredible colours of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are normally only visible much further north Pic: Beth Ruggiero-York / Shutterstock

[UPDATE: Northern Lights were also seen overnight on Monday, February 27 to Tuesday, February 28, with more photos shared; see below.]

It is usually a phenomenon limited to countries much further north but the incredible Aurora Borealis – commonly known as the ‘Northern Lights’ – were visible in the night sky above France last weekend.

The colourful waves of light were seen on Sunday February 26, especially in the north of the country, but also in Poitou and Bourgogne, and captured by several photographers using long exposures

Agrometeorologist Dr. Serge Zaka posted a series of photos of the phenomenon on Twitter, collecting shots from observers who were able to capture the event.

Dr. Zaka is a member of the Info Climat association, which brings together volunteers who are passionate about meteorology (the science of the atmosphere and weather).

The association website sought to describe the phenomenon and why it has appeared in northern France (and other parts of mid-northern Europe) when it usually only shows in much more northerly areas.

It said: “The Sun's activity has been very strong for several days, and a coronal mass ejection (CME) [large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona] has reached Earth in the last few hours allowing auroras to be photographed in long exposures.”

Photographer Sylvain Wallart also shared some shots of the lights on Facebook.

He said: “They were not visible to the naked eye but in the photo you can see the red streaks easily. It lasted for a good ten minutes before the aurora faded away.”

Dr. Zaka said that the phenomenon occurs this low south every 10 to 20 years and is especially visible with a long exposure camera. 

Astrophysicist Eric Lagadec, at the l'Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, told FranceInfo that the event was exceptional.

In a Tweet, he offered some tips on how to capture the lights more brightly.

He said: 

  • Get away from any source of light so that your eyes get used to the dark
  • Look at the north horizon
  • Take photos with a long exposure on a good quality camera, and share the results! 

To see the Aurora Borealis with the naked eye so far south requires lifelong patience (literally) as it only happens around once a century on average.

[UPDATE: Northern Lights were also seen overnight on Monday, February 27 to Tuesday, February 28, with more photos shared.]

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