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No more northern lights right now in Nova Scotia

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The Northern Lights photographed by Gaurav Singh, astrophotographer, on the night of November 5 to 6, 2023 on the beach of Martinique Beach.

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On the night of November 5 to 6, the sky of the province lit up green, yellow and pink at Martinique Beach, east of 'Halifax. Very colorful Northern Lights occurred during the night. This phenomenon is rare in this region in normal times, but it will become more visible than usual in our latitudes over the coming months.

For several years, Gaurav Singh has developed a passion for astrophotography, that is to say taking pictures of the starry sky and he is not ready to forget this night in early November.

I saw that the aurora activity level was very high and was not decreasing. Everything told me that this night was going to be exceptional, plus there were no clouds in the sky and the moon also rose very late, says Gaurav Singh.

So he moved to Martinique Beach, far from light pollution and took photos. It was incredible, it's one of the things you dreamed of seeing in your life.

Gaurav Singh posts a photo and a video on his account Instagram skywatchercanada and the success is immediate. The video has been viewed almost 9,000 times to date, which is four times more than his other publications.

I had quite a few more subscribers, and I didn't realize my photo had gone viral. It’s a nice surprise, adds the photographer who has become a bit of a specialist in the phenomenon. Many subscribers ask him questions about the phenomenon and follow his forecasts.

There will be more and more opportunities to see the Northern Lights in the coming months in Nova Scotia, but also throughout southern Canada, regions normally less conducive to such spectacles.

The reason: the sun. The star is in the process of closing one of its cycles of activity, which scientists measure using the black spots present on the sun. The more there are, the higher the activity and this is expected to increase further, as the end of the cycle is expected within one to two years.

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Olivier Hernandez is an astrophysicist and director of the Montreal Planetarium

When activity increases, the surface of the sun is expelled into space, protons and electrons wander around the universe. In principle, the Earth's magnetic field protects us from this, but at the poles, these particles can descend into the atmosphere, which creates the northern lights, explains Olivier Hernandez, astrophysicist and director of the Montreal planetarium.

We're in about year 9 of the cycle, which is about 11 years. For the next two years, solar flares will be more and more frequent and the intensity will be greater, explains Mr. Hernandez.

In latitudes where we are not used to see more and more.

A quote from Olivier Hernandez, astrophysicist

To know when an aurora borealis will occur, you have to look at two components. The first, the KP index which measures the magnetic field. For the aurora to be visible in southern regions, the index must be greater than 4 or 5. The other indicator is the BZ index, which must indicate south and therefore be negative.

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This aurora borealis was photographed in February in Miscou, in the Acadian Peninsula. (File photo)

Free applications and sites condense this data and allow you to predict which night to go out to see the Northern Lights. At this time, the sky must also be clear and move away from sources of light pollution such as cities.

Few people realize that Nova Scotia is one of the best places on earth for stargazing, says Gaurav Singh. If you go to Cape Breton or Yarmouth, you'll find the best night skies in the world.

  • Julie Sicot (View profile)Julie SicotFollow

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