Tag Archives: animated GIF

Potential For G2/G3 Aurora July 16 and 17

Share Button

Northern Lights Now – A large, long duration M2.44 Solar flare launched an Earth-directed CME from the surface of the Sun early on July 14 that may make for a period of active aurora on July 16 and 17. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a G2 storm watch for both days indicating that the aurora activity readings could be as high as KP=5.67. There is a chance that this storm could reach G3 storm levels.

NLN will be activating an Aurora live blog over the next several days, so come back often for updates. For starters, here is a quick animation of the flare that generated the CME that will impact Earth.

Happy Hunting

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.

G1 Aurora Storm Watch Posted for Feb 23, 2017

Share Button

Update – The storm watch has been continued to a second day. Solar wind speeds arrived later than predicted. Aurora will continue to be possible over the next 24 hours:

SWPC extends the G1 storm watch into the 24th (green) the yellow indicate ongoing KP=4 storming
SWPC extends the G1 storm watch into the 24th (green) the yellow indicate ongoing KP=4 storming

Northern Lights Now – SWPC has issued a geomagnetic storm watch for Thursday, February 23. This means KP values could exceed 5 with aurora visible in higher latitudes. Viewing conditions will be favorable with an almost new waning crescent Moon. The confidence on this storm is a little lower than other recent storms, but is high enough to merit a watch.

The potential aurora is due to the combination of a coronal hole that was pointed towards the Earth on February 20, and a filament eruption that produces a CME from just North of the coronal hole.

The coronal hole, pictured below, is likely to produce solar wind speeds at Earth in the 500-550 km/s range. The winds could pick up anytime between 20:00 GMT on the 22nd and 8:00am GMT on the 23rd. Once wind speeds increase, if the Bz shifts southward (negative), it will indicate northern lights activity is about to increase. Monitor solar wind speed and current Bz on NLN’s DSCOVR Solar Wind Data Page to know when aurora activity is about to increase.

Coronal hole, the dark area, shown in AIA 211 image from SDO
Coronal hole, the dark area, shown in AIA 211 image from SDO

The eruption was from a filament just to the north of center disk and February 19th. Watch the eruption in the animatedGIF below. The plasma cloud is visible shooting out, mostly northward, from the location of the filament. If the material from that cloud is pulled into the solar wind, it will be accelerated and pushed toward Earth. If that happened (forecasters can’t know for sure until the solar wind arrives) it could enhance the aurora activity by increasing the plasma density and accentuating the shifts in the Bz.

AnimatedGIF showing north-center disk filament eruption on Feb 19, 2017
AnimatedGIF showing north-center disk filament eruption on Feb 19, 2017

This is a slightly lower confidence prediction because the predicted solar wind speed is moderate, and there is a good chance that none of the plasma directed was toward Earth. The plasma may move off into space well above Earth’s North Pole. The image above showing the eruption does appear to show most of the material ejected moving to the north.

Happy Hunting