IN IMAGES, IN PICTURES. Northern lights observed in the French sky on Sunday evening, a rare and impressive spectacle

Caused by solar flares, these phenomena are more often visible near the poles than at lower latitudes, such as in France.



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An aurora borealis photographed above the town of Tanay (Côte-d'Or) on November 5, 2023. (NICOLAS DROUHIN)

Streaks of pink light in the night. Northern lights lit up the sky in several regions of France on the night of Sunday 5 to Monday 6 November. Amateur photographers and astronomers were able to observe and share their photos of these immense colorful drapes.

An extremely rare phenomenon above France

Northern lights could be observed in Alsace, Burgundy or Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. In the south of France, the clear sky made this nighttime spectacle exceptional, particularly above Fréjus (Var). The curious did not fail to contemplate and immortalize this event in photos.

Northern lights visible in the rest of Europe

These trails Luminous rays have also been observed in a large part of Europe. The episode was repeated in Italy, Romania and Hungary.

A spectacle generated by a solar storm

The northern lights are born from the encounter between the flow of particles emitted by solar flares, projected at colossal speeds and which attempt to penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, and the magnetic fields of the North and South poles. The aurora”are due to the interaction between this heated and magnetic gas with the Earth. They are most easily observed in areas close to the poles.explains astrophysicist Eric Lagadec on X.

But how can we explain the appearance of this phenomenon in the French sky at latitudes very far from the polar, Arctic and Antarctic circles? Solar flares are sometimes so powerful that the Northern Lights can be observed even in our country, provided that these flares are strong enough and oriented in the right direction.

“When there are solar storms, these auroras can be observed at other latitudes”, continues stardust specialist Eric Lagadec. This phenomenon occurred on Sunday, explaining the appearance of these northern lights in the French sky. “The arrival this night of a wave of solar particles is currently causing a geomagnetic storm and the formation of an aurora borealis,” underlines on X the scientific mediator Pierre Henriquet.

A previous particularly intense solar storm that occurred in September had already caused the appearance of the Northern Lights in France.

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