Tag Archives: aurora

Late September Features To Watch On The Sun

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Northern Lights Now – It has been two weeks since the X-class flare that active region 2673 released as it rotated out of view on the western limb. In that time space weather and aurora activity on Earth has been slowly waning. As that active region rotates back into view it will be renumbered, probably as 2682, and space weather forecasters will be watching to find out how it’s magnetic structure has changed. In addition to the returning active region, there are two coronal holes that may impact Earth’s Aurora activity over the next 7-10 days.

Coronal Holes

A small coronal hole was pointed towards Earth on Sept 21, 2017. Notice in the AIA 211 image below that the majority of the coronal hole is to the south of the solar equator. This time of year, the earth is actually about 7 degrees north of the solar equator. The size of this hole and it’s location to Earth’s south decreases the magnitude of anticipated impact. There is a slight chance for KP4 or KP5 on Sept 24 as the high speed wind from the hole travels near Earth, but SWPC has not issued a geomagnetic watch

Southern Coronal Hole pointed towards Earth on Sept 21
Southern Coronal Hole pointed towards Earth on Sept 21

A second, bigger, coronal hole is approaching the Earth strike zone and will likely have a bigger impact on Earth’s geomagnetic activity September 27th to 30th. This coronal is in the northern hemisphere and has a history of producing high solar wind speeds at Earth on it’s previous rotation. The hole has developed a southern “arm” that crosses the Solar equator. The hole is now “transequitorial,” another indication that Earth will likely be in the high speed wind stream. It seems likely this will prompt a G1 or possibly G2 storm watch later this week.

Another Coronal Hole is approaching the Earth Strike Zone. This one looks more likely to impact Earth's Space Weather
Another Coronal Hole is approaching the Earth Strike Zone. This one looks more likely to impact Earth’s Space Weather

The Return of AR 2673

The large complex active region that blasted 3 X-class flares and numerous M-class flares two weeks ago is completing it’s rotation around the back side of the Sun. While it was on the opposite side of the Sun, LASCO detected at least one major CME from it, but it his been less active over the last several days. As it rotates into view, forecasted will get their first glimpse of whether it has maintained it’s magnetic complexity.

We won’t know until 24-48 hours from now, but if it is still complex, there could be additional M-class flares over the next week. Stay tuned to find out!

Old AR 2673 is rotating into view
Old AR 2673 is rotating into view

Happy Hunting

CIR and Coronal Hole Bring Quick Burst of Aurora to Northern Europe Sept 14, 2017

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Northern Lights Now – The expected G1/G2 storming from the coronal hole pointed towards Earth on Sept 11 arrived late on Sept 13. It induced a period of fast solar wind, strong Bt and G2 storming. The timing was good for our aurora hunting followers in Northern Europe who had clear skies.

Boulder Recorded Planetary K shows two periods of G2 storming in last 15 hours.
Boulder Recorded Planetary K shows two periods of G2 storming in last 15 hours.

At the onset of the storm, Bz was strongly (-15 to -18 nT) south for over half an hour at the beginning of the storm, which set up Earth’s magnetosphere to be highly activated. This means that any additional strong wind, high density, or prolonged negative Bz can quickly jump the KP back into G1/G2 range.

Bz and Bt are strong and favorable at the onset of the storm.
Bz and Bt are strong and favorable at the onset of the storm.

Here are a couple Tweets share with NLN from tonight’s storming

From the Nidderdale in northern Yorks by @HudsonWeather

From Christopher Suarez in Iceland

It is still possible that there could be additional storming. Keep your eyes on the Solar Wind Data. If there is a prolonged people (more than 45 mins or so) of negative Bz, there could be another round of storming.

Note: The current storm is likely the last for a while. There are now active regions that pose M or X class flare threats on the Sun and the next Coronal hole isn’t expected to reach Earth until late September. Make hay while the Sun shines!

Happy Hunting

Sept 6-10 Aurora G3 Storm 2017 – NLN Live Blog pt3

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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 3 of 3, check out the other links:
Live Blog Sept 6-10 Part 1
Live Blog Sept 6-10 Part 2

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 9, 04:45 UTC (00:45 EST 9/9)
Live blog time: 72h 45m

Whew! What a storm. There were two distinct periods of G4 storming in the last 36 hours. The first was timed well for North American aurora hunters and the second for our Europeans followers. This was a treat, especially for this late in the solar cycle.

Two periods of G4 storming in the last 36 hours. The storm is now settling down.
Two periods of G4 storming in the last 36 hours. The storm is now settling down.

The core of both CMEs has now passed and the magnetosphere should start to settle down. There still may be a couple more G1/G2 substorms in the next 24 hours, but the event is coming to an end. Thank you all for reading along and sharing your photos. Please follow NLN on Twitter and on Facebook and sign up for our email list to learn about the next storm when it comes.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 8, 22:00 UTC (16:00 EST 9/8)
Live blog time: 68h 00m

Bz continues to be south and wingKP is indicating G4 storming is going on again now. IF you have clear dark skies go out aurora hunting!

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 8, 15:15 UTC (11:15 EST 9/8)
Live blog time: 63h 15m

In the last update we mentioned that it looks like another CME core is coming through. It is here now and G4 storming is happening again. Tell your friends to go out and look at the sky if it’s dark and clear! Please share this info and help your friends get a chance to see the aurora for themselves.

Second round of G4 aurora is expected to start in about 30 minutes.
Second round of G4 aurora is expected to start in about 30 minutes.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 8, 12:15 UTC (08:15 EST 9/8)
Live blog time: 60h 15m

What a night! There were two periods of G4 storming before the Bz shifted as Earth exited the core of CME. Aurora hunters from Europe to Central North America got a show.

From the Finnish Lapland:

From Edinburgh Scotland

Michigan:

And holy cow look at the color in this panoramic from Scott Rock in Ontario

But wait there’s more! In the last update we mentioned the possibility that there may be another CME core arriving soon. About 45 minutes ago it did as shown in the solar wind data. With Bz this strong south, we are now expecting another round of at least G3 storming over the next 1-4 hours.

Bz shows we should expect another round of aurora coming midday Sept 8 UTC
Bz shows we should expect another round of aurora coming midday Sept 8 UTC

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 8, 05:30 UTC (01:30 EST 9/8)
Live blog time: 53h 30m

There are interesting questions about the future geomagnetic activity of this storm. The IP shocks from both the M5.5 and the X9.33 flares have now arrived. In a regular solar storm, the shock arrives and is followed soon after by the core or body of the CME. In this case, the cores of both CMEs have interacted. This is a very complex, and low confidence, forecast. The bottom line is: We might see another round of G3 storming as the body of the X9.33 CME arrives, or the body of the CME may miss Earth and it might be over. Best thing to do is watch the Bz which, by the way, just flopped back to negative. If Bz stays negative, our west coast US followers and Australia/New Zealand followers may get a show tonight.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 8, 02:45 UTC (22:45 EST 9/7)
Live blog time: 50h 45m

Epic Aurora going on! G4 storming is logged and continues. Bz shifted back to the south, so it may slow for a bit now. Check out this small sampling of images coming in: