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The Celestial Lightshow - The Aurora Super Storm of Friday 10th May 2024:

In the build-up to the now infamouns Friday 10th May, strange things were going on. Looking at the Sun through my eclipse glasses, I was awed to see one the biggest sunspot groups (known astronomically as AR3664). I couldn't believe my luck through the sheer scale of this group and being safely observed using appropriate solar filters; to the naked eye. I knew somethinfg big was going to happen after multiple reports of major M and X-Class Flares hurtling towards Earth. Eventually merging into one big Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) inbound for Earth.

For this reason and for the rare prospects of high-pressure being in the right place at the right time, the goldilocks effect had been reached with much of the entirety of the UK under clear skies. Now was the time to act.

It was therefore my decision to go somewhere close to my heart; to chase a dream I have always dreamt of seeing. The aurora from the Castle Ruins of Corfe Castle.

Yes - many may say it is heavilly photographed, but each Photographer has their own story to tell. Arriving at the moment of twilight, the reports were coming in. They were getting stronger. The aurora oval models were increasing; to levels that I had never-before witnessed. Reports coming in from observers in Kent and Norwich where astornomical darkness would reach first. Signs of pink 'pillars' in the sky.

On reaching my location (which just so happened to be a graveyard of all places!!) I waited for the moment of darkness and to see if my camera would pick up anything. And there it was. Red, diffuse aurora high up in the sky!! I couldn't beliueve the extreme scale of the aurora oval; it was overhead!!! As it gew evermore darker, the green bands of the aurora were visible at lower extremeties near to the castle. Only then, for one of the biggesrt light shows of my life was about to unfold...

After recviewing the rushes in the build-up to this heck of a celestial light show, the green auroral arc was pushing further and further south; increasing in magnitude. Before long, the gravestones and the ground were illumiated green. Then, there she bows. The pillars started to dance, coloursa of pink and red were now becoming visible with some fo the biggest aurora pillars I had seen in my life jetting off in every direction. Quite frankly, I did not know what to do with myself. As with the recent Total Solar Eclipse, I was overcome with emotion. I was positively dismayed. I had never seen like this before; the power of mother nature.

Before long, the depth and extremity of the storm would unfold. Growing in light and intensity as the inbound CME reached the Earh's magnetic field. It was awe-inspiring. Capturing my images from the castle ruins and the tomb stones, it was almost fanatical. I will not forget calling my nearest and dearest to let them know. To see Instagram being flooded with messages from enthusiasts and astrophotographers alike, we were all on standby to bare witness to a moment shared by all.

I know in my heart now - what I observed was to be cherished. Unless I am wrong, I am positively certain this may be one of the only magnetic storms of this scale; with reports dating as far back as 2003 and then, 1935. I hope really that I am wrong, but to see the lights dancing for what seemed like hours, I knew I would have to do an all-nighter and it so turns out, many Astrophotographers did the same and ended up feeling 'aurora-hangover' from the night before and for many nights to come!!!

I wanted to make the best of my night under the aurora so I pushed to go to as many locations as possibke; and in the smallest amount of time possible. This is when I headed out shortly after to Knowlton Henge. After meeting to many lovely Photographers in my travels, I soon learned from a passer-by doing a head-count, over 100-Photographers made their way to Knowlton Henge?!? I could not believe the scale of Photographers there hoping to catch their dibs of the great event?!

This is what I loved at the same time. It was connecting a community more than ever. The public showing an interest, getting up to see it. We were all bound by the same thing; in telling our story of the great cosmic event.

Shortly after, I was deciding to travel to Stonehenge, but I am glad I didn't with probably, more photographers lining the A303. It was then that I decided to head homebound when I stopped of at Cranbourne Chase before dawn. For once, I took my photos and then I just looked up and stared at it. As mentioned before, I knew this would be special and I took it all in; to grace the wonders of what were visible in the heavens.

I just could not get over the scale of the aurora this night; being seen all the way across Europe, Slovenia, Northern Africa, The Southern States of Amercia and likewise for the Southern Hemisphere with the Aurora Australis. Imagine being able to see the aurora from The Atacama Desert in Chile?! This event was purely mind-baffling and an event the world shared in unity.


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