<p id="docs-internal-guid-0032517e-ab43-660d-6529-43dc4641679c" dir="ltr"><strong>A colorful starburst-shaped aurora blankets the entire sky above <a href="http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/map-machine#s=r&amp;c=53.798252674094,%20-113.64721298217772&amp;z=7">Morinville, Alberta (map), </a>on the night of June 29.</strong></p><p>"It was very strong and seemed to [be] surrounded by an umbrella of light, almost reaching the horizon. Humbling," said photographer Jeff Wallace.</p><p dir="ltr">Two days before a large solar storm had erupted on the surface of the sun, sending a massive cloud of charged particles into space toward Earth. Upon arrival, the <a href="http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/education-videos/education-general/edu-solar-flares/">coronal mass ejection</a> slammed into our planet's magnetic field, sparking a bright display of northern lights seen across many northern countries.</p><p>The sun is currently entering peak activity levels in its <a href="http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/questions/question17.html">11-year cycle</a>. Numerous sunspots form on a near-daily basis, resulting in an increase in solar storms that fling charged particles from the sun's surface and produce geomagnetic storms here on Earth. (<a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/06/solar-storms/ferris-text">Read about solar storms in the June 2012 issue of <em>National Geographic </em>magazine.</a>)</p><p><em>—Andrew Fazekas</em></p>

Cosmic Starburst

A colorful starburst-shaped aurora blankets the entire sky above Morinville, Alberta (map), on the night of June 29.

"It was very strong and seemed to [be] surrounded by an umbrella of light, almost reaching the horizon. Humbling," said photographer Jeff Wallace.

Two days before a large solar storm had erupted on the surface of the sun, sending a massive cloud of charged particles into space toward Earth. Upon arrival, the coronal mass ejection slammed into our planet's magnetic field, sparking a bright display of northern lights seen across many northern countries.

The sun is currently entering peak activity levels in its 11-year cycle. Numerous sunspots form on a near-daily basis, resulting in an increase in solar storms that fling charged particles from the sun's surface and produce geomagnetic storms here on Earth. (Read about solar storms in the June 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine.)

—Andrew Fazekas

Photograph by Jeff Wallace, National Geographic Your Shot

Space Pictures This Week: Starburst Aurora, Milky Way Portraits

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