G1 Storm Watch for Potential Aurora May 16 2016

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Northern Lights Now – SWPC has issued a geomagnetic storm watch for potential G1 conditions on late on May 16. A coronal pointed towards Earth should release high speed solar winds that will begin impacting Earth’s magnetosphere on Sunday. Based on STEREO Ahead data, the winds are anticipated to be between 550 and 600 km/s as they arrive. The pressure the wind, and the particles it is carrying, exert will displace the magnetosphere and could result in Aurora.

At the moment, the projected timeline for the G1 storming (KP=5+) is in the second half of May 16. As always, if the winds are faster than expected, the storming could arrive earlier and be stronger. If they wind is slower, the active period may be later, but last longer. Here’s the NLN’s auroraCast displaying the SWPC projected timelines for when storming could arrive:

NLN AuroraCast shows a period of G1 storming on 5/16
NLN AuroraCast shows a period of G1 storming on 5/16

The coronal hole that is producing these storms is smaller and not quite as well positioned as the coronal hole that produced the May 7-8 storming. But if the magnetic fields line up correctly, it could still put on a good show. Here is an image of the last coronal hole, and this coronal hole side by side with images from SDO in AIA 211:

Side By Side images of the last coronal hole and this one
Side By Side images of the last coronal hole and this one

Introducing a new feature! You will be able to watch this high speed solar wind arrive live on our just release ACE Solar Wind page. This page has 5 charts that are updated every minute with the most recent data from the ACE satellite. Four graphs show the current and recent solar wind speed, solar wind proton density, and current magnetic field strength in Bt and N/S orientation in Bz. The top graph shows the duration that each of those different measures have exceeded certain thresholds. Spaceweather enthusiasts and photographers know that the longer the wind is strong and the longer and stronger the Bz is oriented south, the more likely northern lights are. Now you can watch these conditions develop in real time. Here’s a snapshot of that page!

Solar wind data duration and magnitude from the Mother's Day storm
Solar wind data duration and magnitude from the Mother’s Day storm

Happy Hunting!

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