Bright Aurora borealis in Germany

In the night from friday to saturday on May 10th 2024 the strongest solar storm since 2003 hit the earth. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center rated it a G5 storm, which is the highest possible category. A sunspot region “17 times the diameter of Earth” led to multiple CMEs (coronal mass ejection) and solar flares. A KP-Index of 9 was reached – the maximum magnitude of geomagnetic storms. Shortly after satellite DSCOVR measured Bz values lower than -40 the magic of an historic event unfolded.

On friday evening I organized an excursion in northern Thuringia which ended just minutes before midnight. After starting our two hour travel back home to Jena I recognized alert messages saying a bright aurora borealis happened only an hour ago during dawn. Being sensitized this way I look through the windshield of my car when all of a sudden a huge white beamer showed up over the horizon. I yelled “Aurora!” to my family and pulled over to stop the car next to the road. I jumped out of it and couldn’t believe my eyes. The whole sky was full of beamers in greenish and reddish color.

Smartphone photograph handheld of Aurora borealis over Deuna in northern Thuringia (Germany)
In the first minutes I tried to call as many people as possible to inform them and set up my camera. What might have been a brief moment lasted for an hour and we stood there speechless in awe and love.
After taking a few stills I left the fisheye on the car roof taking pictures every 2 sec for the next hour.
The aurora was so bright one could easily take pictures with a smartphone.

The last bright beamers showed up shortly after 11 pm UTC. I took some last stills with my smartphone before grabbing the camera on the roof heading home.

The high quality images of the display through my Canon R5 show northern lights in 360 degrees. They have been everywhere above us as well as next to the horizon – even to the south.

Make sure to watch the whole display in motion. I recorded almost an hour (1425 images).

We could recognize the Aurora through the whole way home. Almost two hours later the activity reached another (third) peak. After arriving my hometown Jena I took some last images from city center close to the beginning dawn. I was lucky to still get some visible beamers and had a nice to talk to some Chinese fellows who had been looking out for the northern lights as well.

What a night!