Solar Storm Could Trigger Northern Lights as Far South as Alabama – How to Photograph Them with Your Phone

NOAA has issued a rare severe geomagnetic storm watch, which can result in the 'spectacular displays of aurora'

<p>Getty</p> Northern lights


Northern lights

The northern lights may be viewable as far south as Alabama this weekend thanks to a rare severe geomagnetic storm.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, said in a news release that it was monitoring the sun after a “series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that began May 8.”

The storms can “trigger spectacular displays of aurora” with a potential for those in Northern California and even southern states such as Alabama to be able to see the northern lights — which can make for spectacular images.

Typically, the northern lights (also known as the aurora borealis) are best viewed from high northern latitudes during the winter in Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia.

Related: All About the Northern Lights in the United States, Including When and How to View Them

At least five flares associated with CME’s appeared to be Earth-directed, NOAA said in the release.

According to NOAA, CMEs are explosions of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun’s corona which cause geometric storms when they are directed at Earth.

<p>Getty</p> Solar Storm


Solar Storm

Related: Kacey Musgraves 'Almost Got Blown Off' an Icelandic Cliff While Filming Music Video: 'It Was Treacherous'

Such storms can potentially disrupt communications, the electric power grid, navigation, and radio and satellite operations, NOAA said.

The agency added that additional solar eruptions could cause the storm conditions to last through the weekend.

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<p>Getty</p> Solar storm


Solar storm

In Iceland, authorities have offerd a few tips on how to best capture the majesty of the moment.

"Thankfully, you don't need a high-end full-frame camera and expensive wide-angled lenses with 1.2 aperture—although those are excellent choices," a post on their website reads. "Advancements in smartphone technology now allow us to capture the Northern Lights and other low-light scenes effectively. The settings are relatively easy, and the results can be stunning."

According to the website, photographers should use a tripod, which is “essential for long exposures in low light;” lock your phone’s focus to the “infinity” setting; do not use a flash; and consider apps like Northern Lights Photo Taker, NightCap Camera, ProCamera and Slow Shutter for iOS, and for Android, ProCam X Lite.

<p>Getty</p> The Aurora Borealis light up the sky over Denali National Park in Alaska.


The Aurora Borealis light up the sky over Denali National Park in Alaska.

Another helpful tip? Using a tripod.

However, officials advised that even though it may be tempting to stay focused on getting the best shot possible, it's also important to let yourself enjoy the experience as it's happening.

"While photographing the Northern Lights is rewarding, take time to immerse yourself in the experience without any gadgets," the post continued. "Sometimes, fond memories are the best capture."

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