Every 11 years or so, the Earth experiences a "solar maximum" — a period of particularly intense activity on the sun that produces especially vivid displays of the Aurora Borealis. We're currently around the peak of that solar maximum, and as a result, beautiful photos of the Aurora Borealis have been showing up all over social media.
Ole Christian Salomonsen, a former equities broker in Norway, quit his job to become a full-time photographer and videographer, and he dedicated last year to capturing the Northern Lights. This beautiful image was shot as 2013 gave way to 2014:
(Photo: Ole Christian Salomonsen)
And in December, Salomonsen released this video he produced for Visitnorway.com, which includes shots taken throughout 2013:
The Nations are a family of six from the UK who first got hooked on the Northern Lights during a trip to Iceland in 2009. They've since dubbed themselves "the Aurora Addicts," and are in the middle of a five-month tour of the Arctic as they chase the lights. They spent New Year's in Balsfjord, Norway:
You can follow their adventures on their Facebook page.
And here's another New Year's Aurora shot from Norweigian photographer Kenneth Skulbru:
Fox News's chief meteorologist Rick Reichmuth spent the last few days of 2013 in Yellowknife. He recently tweeted this photo:
Finally, if you haven't seen this video from Aurora enthusiast Paul Williams, it's worth a watch. While on a flight from London to New York, he snapped about 800 images of the lights (balancing his camera on his backpack) and converted them into this timelapse video from out the airplane's window:
You can see Williams's still photos in this great Flickr set.
The Aurora Borealis is caused when charged particles emitted by the Sun collide with the Earth's upper atmosphere.