A strong solar storm hit Earth early Saturday, making the awesome Northern Lights visible across the Northern Hemisphere. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had to give a rare warning about the storm hitting earlier than expected. It made the Northern Lights visible even in places like London and southern England. People in other European cities also saw these amazing lights and shared pictures. The NOAA told power plants, spacecraft operators, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be careful, but regular people did not need to do anything special. The Northern Lights might even be seen as far south as Alabama and Northern California in the U.S., but they might not be as bright there.

In 1859, a super strong solar storm created the Northern Lights which could be seen even in Central America and maybe even as far as Hawaii. These storms can mess up power lines and satellites, causing problems with navigation and communication. A similar storm in 2003 caused power outages in Sweden and transformer issues in South Africa. The recent storm, which started on May 15 with solar flares, involved big bursts of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun’s outer layer. The huge sunspot causing these flares is bigger than Earth and shows that solar activity is peaking in the sun’s 11-year cycle. These events remind people how powerful and unpredictable space weather can be, keeping scientists and skywatchers on their toes.