Sept 6-10 Aurora G3 Storm 2017 – NLN Live Blog pt1

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Northern Lights Now – A G3 storm watch is in effect for September 6 and 7 thanks to a solar storm launched from an Earth-directed solar eruption at active region 2673. Aurora hunters are expecting a mid-latitude display. Northern Lights Now will keep you up to date on the latest information in this live blog. We’ll be updating regularly, so come back often.

This is part 1 of 3, check out the other links:

Live Blog Sept 6-10 Part 2
Live Blog Sept 6-10 Part 3

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 22:30 UTC (18:30 EST 9/6)
Live blog time: 22h 30m

With the addition of today’s X9.33 flare, the G3 Storm watch has been extended to 96 hours and continues through Sept 9. This should mean pretty almost all viewing areas should have at least some clear skies during the storm period. Also, by Sept 9 the moon is less bright and there’s a longer time between Sunset and Moonrise.

Notification timeline now shows a G3 geomagnetic storm watch extending 4 days.
Notification timeline now shows a G3 geomagnetic storm watch extending 4 days.

There are hints the shock is about to hit – temp decreasing, wind and density more variable. CME could arrive in next 30-180mins.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 19:15 UTC (15:30 EST 9/6)
Live blog time: 19h 30m

Busy day! The active region responsible for the predicted storm produced two X class flares (so far!) today. The bigger flare was measured at X9.33 making it the biggest solar flare of the current solar cycle. The last time there was an X-Class flare was May 5, 2015. Stay tuned for more info on the CME released during this eruption. So far, initial imagery indicates it is likely to the south and west of Earth, but it’s too early to rule out a glancing blow around Sept 8/9.

As it is now getting dark in Europe, the anticipated solar storm has not arrived yet. It is a little late, but it is still well within the bounds of the prediction confidence intervals. Hang tight.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 11:15 UTC (07:15 EST 9/6)
Live blog time: 11h 15m

As of this update, the CME has not arrived at Earth yet. Bz has been south for over an hour, which may prime the magnetosphere to ring when the shock arrives. We expect there will be at least three distinct phases to this solar storm.

Bz is south in advance of the CME shock arrival
Bz is south in advance of the CME shock arrival

First, when the initial shock hits, it will have high density (all the protons that it has swept up as it travels through space), and a big spike in wind speed. This will be measured at DSCOVR about 30-45 minutes before it arrives at Earth. Once it arrives, the aurora may dance, but the wing KP won’t reflect it yet.

Second, we will enter the first phase of the storm. It is impossible to know until it arrives if it will be oriented correctly for aurora. If Bz is negative, we should see a good show. Third, there may be a second shock and a new phase of Bz as a second, slower, CME arrives.

You can watch the Wind Speed in real time on our site (it auto-refreshes). This will be the best tool for predicting when the initial shock arrives at Earth. After that monitor the KP here.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 03:15 UTC (23:15 EST 9/5)
Live blog time: 03h 15m

Know your local viewing conditions. The best viewing conditions are when it is dark and clear. This storm will be tricky because the forecast calls for clouds or smoke in a lot of the typical hot-spots for viewing. It is also a nearly full moon. There will be a window between sunset and moonrise that it should be really dark. You should be able to get good photos even when the moon is out – do long exposures and photograph a part of the sky where the moon isn’t.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 00:00 UTC (20:00 EST 9/5)
Live blog time: 00h 00m

The G3 watch period has started. We aren’t expecting storming conditions to start for at least another 12 hours. In advance of the storm, watch the EPAM rise. We’ll know the initial shock of the storm hits when solar wind jumps and Bt, Bz and density make big shifts. In the meantime, here is the SWPC forecast for max KP expected in each three hour block over the next 24 hours. Expecting 7 blocks of G1 and above, 5 of G2 and above and 2 of G3.

Purple on the NLN auroraCast clock indicates expected G3 storming
Purple on the NLN auroraCast clock indicates expected G3 storming

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