People in the north of France were treated to a rare sighting of the Northern Lights on Friday evening (December 1).
"The Northern Lights have been temporarily visible last night on the north of France as here from the town of Hervelinghen," reported meteorologist Guillaume Séchet on social media platform X (formerly Twitter).
Des #auroresboréales ont pu être temporairement visibles hier soir sur le Nord de la #France comme ici depuis la commune de Hervelinghen.— Guillaume Séchet (@Meteovilles) December 2, 2023
Photo : misteph62 pour https://t.co/49Q1X7V3Eo pic.twitter.com/zTiFnksVs8
The Aurora Borealis were seen by residents across the Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments; many people shared their photos on social networks.
This light spectacle is generally only seen in more extreme latitudes, usually visible near the North and South Poles – the Southern lights being called the Aurora Australis.
To have any hope of seeing the Northern Lights, it is recommended to look at the sky in a northerly direction.
Fourth sighting this year
Seeing the Aurora Borealis is relatively rare at latitudes like France, where they are observable about every ten years provided that the solar flare is strong enough and oriented in the right direction.
Unlike the Northern Lights observed near the Arctic Circle, which are usually green, the colours in France are warmer due to the country’s lower altitude.
A winter spectacle
The Northern Lights are a result of solar winds reacting with the Earth's environment.
These hot, charged particles meet gases in our atmosphere and depending where and with how much energy, different wavelengths of light are released producing a spectacular display of colour high up in the sky.
December kicked off with a light show thanks to a powerful solar flare erupting from the sun, hurling a super-hot plasma eruption known as a coronal mass ejection toward Earth.
The lights this caused were visible in multiple places across Europe. However the most impressive sightings took place in parts of the United States as it was night when the lights were at their strongest.
Des aurores en direct en vidéo ? C'est par ici que ça se passe !— AurorAlpes (@AurorAlpes) December 1, 2023
La tempête géomagnétique annoncée a bien lieu, mais c'est l'Alaska qui en profite le mieux. C'est le problème quand la Terre est sphérique : faut partager les aurores... https://t.co/3v8AoeJpXI