Northern Lights extravaganza over Iceland

This weekend saw incredible Northern Lights shows visible across the whole of Iceland, including the capital, Reykjavik, despite the occasional cloud cover. NASA predicts that the Aurora is set to build in frequency over the forth-coming months, with the brightest levels seen for 50 years.

According to scientists, this increased activity will be caused by the Solar Maximum – a period when the sun’s magnetic field on the solar equator rotates at a slightly faster pace than at the solar poles. Fast moving charged particles from the sun, known as ‘solar wind’, interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere. This collision with the Earth’s air molecules causes energy in the form of lights to be emitted.

The Solar Maximum peaks every 11 to 12 years, with the previous pinnacle occurring back in 2000. NASA scientists have predicted that the next one in 2012 will be the greatest since 1958.

Over the past few days, IceNews has received reports of incredible Northern Lights activity, especially in the south west of Iceland, including the downtown area of Reykjavik, and Hvalfjordur, just outside of the capital region. Scientists have predicted that this strong activity will be continuing throughout the winter in Iceland.

Some images from Saturday’s activity can be viewed here.

Photo taken by Runólfur Hauksson