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Solar Storm Creates Dazzling Polar Aurora April 9, 2010
Aurora Borealis over Siberia
Photographer Akhmetsafin Ruslan appears to embrace the glorious aurora borealis on Tuesday near Yakutiya, Russia. (Gallery of latest aurora images from
The sun’s most powerful geomagnetic storm since December 2006 sent a stream of charged particles rushing into Earth’s atmosphere, triggering bursts in both the northern and southern lights.

The “coronal mass ejection” on April 3 traveled outward from the sun at about 300 miles per second, reaching Earth three days later.

The vivid aurora displays that illuminated the night skies at high latitudes were the most impressive in four years, according to observers.

The sun remained nearly free of such activity for almost two years before beginning an upswing in its 11-year cycle of sunspot activity late last year.

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi tweeted this image of the International Space Station appearing to brush the much lower aurora on Tuesday.

Photo: Akhmetsafin Ruslan