KP value readings have been between 4 and 5.33 this evening. This means possible aurora in northern Europe, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the northern United States.
Tonight’s active space weather is primarily the result of a large coronal hole in the southern hemisphere of the Sun. It was pointed towards Earth about 3 days ago. Coronal holes elevate the solar wind speed, and higher wind speeds make geomagnetic storming more likely. Here’s an image of the coronal hole in SDO AIA 211 wavelength from December 4, 2014 – two days ago. You can see the dark area in the southern hemisphere very clearly.
Tonight that wind is arriving at Earth. We’re seeing Wind Speeds recorded at the ACE satellite of over 750 km/sec. This chart of the last two hours of solar wind speed is from SpaceWeatherLive.com as measured by the ACE Satellite.
We’ve been watching the KP flirt with storm level all evening on our Real-time live KP charts. The higher the KP goes, the more likely places further south are to see the Northern Lights.
As exciting as it is that there may be aurora tonight, there is one major factor making it hard to see the show. It is a full moon – the Cold Moon. The moon will be high and bright. Any additional light in the skies makes it harder to see the faint glow of Aurora.
SWPC has posted a G2 Geomagnetic Storm watch for November 10th, 2014, and a G1 Storm watch for November 11, 2014. This means there is the potential to see Aurora further south than normal. KP values could go as high as KP=6 tonight, and KP=5 tomorrow. Here is the alerts graphic from Space Weather Prediction Center:
The potential geomagnetic activity watch is due to the predicted arrival of the CME from the X1.6 Flare launched from Active Region 2205 (Beta-Delta-Gamma) at 17:26 UTC (about Noon Eastern Time). There was a clear CME visible in LASCO imagery, but bulk of the material was sent North and East of the Earth-Sun line. If the CME does arrive at Earth, it will likely be a glancing blow. But even a glancing blow from an X-Class flare can produce exciting Northen Lights. The CME from Lasco Imagery:
As always, it is hard to predict the exact timing of the arrival of a CME. The current WSA-Enlil model is showing an arrival of the peak around 5:00AM EST. Depending on the polarity of the plasma, we may see the KP increase in advance of the arrival or trailing the arrival. Again, we’ll know once it starts to arrive. The key indicator is the Bz component of the IMF (Interplanetary Magnetic Field), watch for it to shift negative at Space Weather Live, the longer it is negative, and the deeper negative it is, the more likely we are to see a show.
This is a particularly tricky forecast this time. It is a glancing blow and the models have been very sensitive to the interpretation of the LASCO imagery. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for this one. You can watch live KP data at http://northernlightsnow.com/current-kp-realtime/ and follow @northLightAlert on twitter for updates.
After about 10 days of very quite solar weather news, today we’ve seen several events. It is likely this is the start of the next uptick in solar activity.
First – Aurora are being reported in Northern Europe and Iceland already this evening. Do you have a picture you would like to share? We’re seeing elevated KP. So far the KP has been as high as 5.67. This is resulting from the arrival of higher solar wind speed which was perfectly timed and coincided with a shift to negative Bz. Here is the Bz Chart from spaceweatherlive.com
Second – There is a large filament rotating into view on the solar disk. This should be pointed towards earth in about 7 days. If it erupts while facing Earth, we could see a CME arrival at Earth.
Third – Two M-class flares were launched today from an Active Region that is rotating onto the disk. The first was an impulsive M1.1 flare. The second is a very long duration M2.28 flare. These won’t produce Earth-directed CMEs, but as they rotate, it is likely they will continue to produce flares.
Enjoy the show tonight, and keep tuned as next week may be very active.