Austral Auroras, with pink and red hues, colored the sky in different areas of Punta Arenas, Chiloé, and the Aysén Region.

In a rare celestial display, southern Chile has been illuminated by the presence of auroras australis after 165 years of waiting. This phenomenon, triggered by a recent solar storm, flooded areas such as Punta Arenas, Chiloé and the Aysén region with shades of pink and red, turning the sky into a canvas of natural beauty and attracting the attention of thousands of fortunate witnesses to this event.

Auroras australis, also known as the southern lights, are an astronomical phenomenon that occurs in this hemisphere of the planet when a coronal mass ejection from the Sun interacts with the Earth's magnetosphere, generating a dance of lights in the atmosphere. This rare sighting, which had been virtually unprecedented at these latitudes since 1859, has become an event that has captured the imagination of many.

While some might be surprised to discover that this is not the first record of auroras australis in the region, the latest one has left an indelible mark on this area of Chile. Historical records (shared in Bío Bío) reveal that in the early hours of September 2, 1859, a similar manifestation of colored lights surprised inhabitants of Concepción and Santiago. This event, known as the Carrington event in honor of the astronomer Richard Carrington, was one of the most significant in history and left those who had the privilege of witnessing it astonished.

The recent glow in the southern Chilean sky has been attributed to one of the most intense solar storms recorded in recent history, classified as the fifth on a scale of 5 by the U.S. NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center. These storms, triggered by massive emissions of charged particles and electromagnetic radiation from the Sun, interact with the Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere, creating an incomparable celestial spectacle.

Image Credits: National GeographicChilean Geoscientific Network (César QuezadaUntuitSinceroNicolás Butorovic)

An unforgettable phenomenon

From Punta Arenas to the city of Ushuaia in Argentina, the auroras have left observers and photographers alike amazed, painting the sky with a palette of colors ranging from green, red, blue, to purple. This phenomenon, which can be observed in places like La Araucanía, Aysén, and Magallanes, has generated fervor among photography and nature enthusiasts, who have captured impressive images that are now circulating on social networks.

The science behind this phenomenon is as fascinating as the spectacle itself. The interaction of the solar wind, composed of electrically charged ions, with Earth's atmospheric gases releases energy in the form of photons, creating the brilliant and enigmatic auroras that we have had the privilege to witness in these past few days.

Although the sky will soon return to its usual serenity, the memory of these southern lights will continue to shine in the minds of those who witnessed this phenomenon. The auroras australis in Chile remind us of the majesty and beauty of the universe, reminding us of our connection with the cosmos and the astonishing ability of nature to surprise us time and time again.

Witnessing auroras australis is a matter of luck, but also of science. For the skies in southern Chile and Patagonia to light up in red or pink, a solar storm like the one that occurred last weekend must occur on Earth. But who knows: perhaps on your next trip, you'll be one of the lucky ones to witness the majesty of the auroras.

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