Category Archives: Solar Storm Recap

G3 Aurora lights up the Sky Memorial Day weekend 2017

Share Button

Northern Lights Now – It may be approaching the quieter part of the Solar cycle, but the Sun isn’t done giving Aurora hunters eye candy yet. A solar storm launched on May 23 from the Sun arrived at Earth with a bang late Saturday. The setup of the storm was great for viewing aurora, the Moon was a waxing crescent, it was the weekend, many of the top viewing spots had clear skies, and the CME was oriented in a nearly perfect angle.

Check out NLN’s top 100 tweets page from this storm.

In Vermont, this turned out to be one of the best storms I have personally seen. The KP started rising quickly mid-to-late afternoon. Around Sunset the KP hit 6.33 – high enough that it should be possible to see the aurora dance. By 1:00am it was full on “Pants on” time. I drove to Malletts Bay.

As I arrived, the sky was dancing. Another photographer was just finishing up a half hour time-lapse. Even with some light pollution from Colchester, Montreal, and Plattsburgh, it was easy to see the sky glowing and pillars moving. Lake Champlain was calm so it was possible to see the aurora reflecting off the water.

Epic Aurora and reflections off Lake Champlain During G3 storming on Memorial Day Weekend 2017
Epic Aurora and reflections off Lake Champlain During G3 storming on Memorial Day Weekend 2017

With the Bz solidly below -15nT, the show would go on for 6+ hours. Like any northern lights, the intensity varied from minute to minute. At times it looked like the show might be over. At other times I felt like the luckiest guy on Earth.

One of those lucky moments was getting to watch a meteor streak and flash through the sky. My camera wasn’t pointed in the right direction (or in an exposure at the moment), but a fellow photographer and friend caught it! Here is Brian Drourr’s photo from the moment it streaked by

What an Epic night!
Happy Hunting

Great Night for Aurora May 27-28 2017

Share Button

Northern Lights Now – It was a terrific night for aurora tonight! We’ll be posting more later – but here’s a back of camera snapshot taken while we were out on the hunt in Colchester VT.

Back of Cam Aurora in Colchester, VT - May 28, 2017
Back of Cam Aurora in Colchester, VT – May 28, 2017

Early March G2 Aurora Strom Puts on a Global Show

Share Button

Northern Lights Now – An extended period of high solar winds, the result of a large Earth-directed coronal hole, put on a three day long show for aurora hunters in high latitudes in early March. Photographers captured aurora glows, pillars, picket fences, dancing displays and illuminated night landscapes from around the world between mid March 1 through early March 4. Here’s a spectacular time lapse video from Adam Hill showing a wave of northern lights racing westward through the sky.

This extended storm was measured by the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) as 9 periods of G1 storming and one period of G2 storming over 66 hours. G1 storming means the KP reached 4.67 and aurora can be visible as far south as Toronto, the upper midwest in the United States, Seattle and Scotland and can be seen as far north as Invercargill and Tasmania in the Southern Hemisphere. G2 storming means aurora can be seen at even lower latitudes near cities such as Portland, Boise, Dublin, Hamburg, Moscow and Christchurch. This chart show the first 5 days of March with the G1 and G2 3-hour periods showing in Red.

5 days of geomagnetic activity as measured by NOAA and SWPC
5 days of geomagnetic activity as measured by NOAA and SWPC

This early march storm is the result of a coronal hole that was pointed towards earth at the end of February. The hole is shown as a dark area on AIA 193 in the image below. It exposes the high speed solar wind emanating from the solar surface. Here’s an image of the coronal hole from the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

Coronal hole in AIA 193 shown as a dark finger reaching up toward center disk from the pole
Coronal hole in AIA 193 shown as a dark finger reaching up toward center disk from the pole

Those high speed solar winds take 2-5 days to arrive at Earth, and when they do they push on the magnetosphere and can cause aurora. This means that when there is a coronal hole pointed towards Earth solar scientists can predict that there is a good chance for activity 1-3 days in advance. Watch for those predictions on the NLN 3-day aurora cast – potential G1 storming shows as orange on those charts.

Let’s enjoy the view! Here are a few of our favorite tweets from this storm:

Watch the cloud clear and the lights come out to play in this time lapse

Stan’s take shows the aurora in black and white – this really brings out the texture and shapes

This panorama is worth clicking on and viewing full screen!

Finally, one of our favorite types of aurora – the “Picket Fence”

If you would like to have a chance to see the northern lights in person, consider following the NLN twitter feed (@northlightalert) to learn more about why aurora happen and when they may be visible.