Tag Archives: coronal hole

Coronal Hole Prompts 48-Hour G1 Aurora Storm Watch December 6 2015

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UPDATE December 5, 2015: The G1 watch has been extended to 72 hours. This long duration event could produce aurora at almost any time over the next three days. Keep an eye on the KP to know when it may be possible to see northern lights in your area.

Original Post:
The expected high speed solar wind stream from a large Earth-directed coronal hole has prompted SWPC to issue a G1 geomagnetic storm watch for Sunday and Monday December 6 and 7. The coronal hole responsible for the watch, CH34, is one of three currently active coronal holes on the visible Solar disk at the moment. Coronal hole 34 is the nearly circular transequitorial dark area annotated with an orange outline on this AIA 211 image taken yesterday by SDO:

Coronal hole responsible for December 6 and 7 G1 geomagnetic storm watch
Coronal hole responsible for December 6 and 7 G1 geomagnetic storm watch

The other two coronal holes are visible in the same image. CH33 is the larger northern hemisphere dark area that has already moved past the Earth strike zone. CH35 is the long coronal hole to the South and East (to the right) of CH34. Coronal holes 34 and 35 almost appear to be merging into a single large big-dipper shaped coronal hole. You can see the demarcation clearly on the NOAA Solar Synoptic Map – coronal holes are outlined with a solid line with a hash to the inside of the coronal hole:

Synoptic Map shows Coronal Holes and active Regions
Synoptic Map shows Coronal Holes and active Regions

CH35’s extension to the north and west is responsible for second day of the extended watch. As both holes grow, there is a larger area of coronal hole pointed towards Earth for a longer time. The current 3-day forecast is calling for two 3-hour periods of KP=5 (G1 storming), with a long period of potential for G4 storming in the other times. If the Bz sets up correctly, this could turn into a long duration G1 or possibly G2 event, so stay tuned and keep an eye on the KP. Here’s the current 3-day Auroracast:

AuroraCast shows Das 2 and thee each with a period of expected KP=5
AuroraCast shows Das 2 and thee each with a period of expected KP=5

Happy Hunting!

Return of Long Lived Coronal Hole – November 28

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The transequatorial coronal hole that has been visible on the Sun since April is pointed towards Earth again today. On Each of it’s previous 4 rotations (August 12, September 8, October 4 and November 1), this coronal hole has produced solar wind in excess of 600 km/s about 3-4 days later and it has been responsible for several nice aurora displays. Here’s an image of the coronal hole during the previous four rotations and today

Long Lived Coronal Hole over 5 rotations
Long Lived Coronal Hole over 5 rotations

SWPC is anticipating the high speed stream from the CH to start arriving at Late on November 30th. Solar wind speeds will likely increase to at least 600km/s. It is likely a G1 watch will be posted for Dec 1.

Happy Hunting!

G2 Aurora Storming Predicted for Oct 8 2015

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SWPC has issued a G2 geomagnetic storm watch for October 7th and 8th and a G1 geomagnetic storm watch for October 9th. A positive polarity equatorial coronal hole will be producing a high speed solar wind that should be arriving late on Wednesday October 7th. On the previous rotation (Sept 8) this coronal hole produced a 2 day period of G1 and G2 storming. Here’s an image of the coronal hole on the previous rotation, and on the current rotation (Click for larger view):

Coronal hole images from last rotation and this rotation
Comparison of Sept 8 Coronal hole rotation to Oct 6

Coronal holes on the equator of the sun take roughly 27 days to make a full rotation. During that time they are constantly changing and evolving. It is clear this coronal hole – the dark areas on the AIA 211 images above – has become larger. It is generaly a safe bet that if the previous rotation created a strong solar stream, the current rotation will as well.

Like on the last rotation, the predicted storm is coming at a good time for aurora hunters. The Moon will be in a waning crescent phase, so there shouldn’t be much light pollution from the moon. For viewers in the northern hemisphere there is between 30 and 90 minutes of additional dark hours as the nights are longer and days are shorter since the last rotation. This is what the phase of the moon should look like:

Moon phases during predicted Aurora period
MoonPhases for Oct 7-9

Predicting the timing of Aurora that come from a coronal holes is a little easier than that from CMEs. It is hard to determine the speed and orientation of a CME, but with a coronal hole there is a narrower window. That said, predicting the exact timing of any geomagetic storm is difficult, and predictions can be off by as much as 6-12 hours. As of this writing, the current timeline calls for a peak of the G2 storming to happen starting at the end of October 7 and continuing through the early hours of Oct 8 – with G1 storming continuing for up to 6 more hours. For the East Coast Time zone, this means Wednesday evening from sunset through 3:00-6:00AM. NLN’s current infographic for the timing of the storm’s arrival:

NLN aurora prediction clock showing predicted storm arrival
Aurora timelines as of 10/6/2015

The predicted timelines are updated twice daily, you can always find them on NLN’s three-day forecast page. You can also keep an eye on the current and near-term predicted KP and the ovation auroral oval on the NLN Current Current KP Real-Time page.

Happy Hunting!