Aurora borealis photo taken in Extremadura awarded by NASA

by Lorraine Williamson
aurora borealis

CáCERES – In Casar de Cáceres, a small town in Extremadura, the residents had an unexpected surprise. An aurora borealis, or polar light, appeared in their sky. 

To see a real aurora borealis, you would think you have to travel to a place close to the North Pole or at least to the north of Scotland or Scandinavia. However, nothing is less true. Although the chance is greater in the far north, due to a combination of factors, the auroras can sometimes also be seen further south. 

Astronomical image of the day 

Lorenzo Cordero managed to capture the unique phenomenon above the sky of Casar de Cáceres with his camera and was subsequently selected by NASA and distributed via social networks as the “Astronomical Image of the Day”. His photo shows an impressive red aurora. 

Second photo from Extremadura recognised by NASA 

Cordero, who is a member of the astronomical association ‘El Cielo de Cáceres’, assured El Periódico de Extremadura that the photo was taken on April 23. It is the second time an Extremadura image has been recognised by NASA since Javier Caldera and Miguel Gracia took this January of the ZTF comet in Cáceres. 

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Why see Northern Lights so far south? 

The US space agency describes this phenomenon as the result of a strong Coronal Mass Event (CME), which occurred on the sun a few days ago. Electrons and protons streamed down Earth’s northern magnetic field lines and collided with oxygen and nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere, creating a picturesque auroral glow. 

It is very likely that this will not be the last time the Northern Lights can be seen in the Spanish sky. According to NASA, the sun’s unusual activity may provide more opportunities to see these phenomena over locations farther south than the North Pole. 

Polar light 

The auroras are a beautiful natural phenomenon caused by the solar wind. The electrically charged particles of the solar wind enter the atmosphere and are pulled by the Earth’s magnetic field towards the poles, where they enter the atmosphere at increased speed. This creates the Northern Lights or the Southern Lights. The energy of these particles is transferred to oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere and is re-emitted in the form of colorful lines that form the aurorae. The colourful aurora was discovered during the International Geophysical Year in 1957. 


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