Tag Archives: coronal mass ejection

Valentine’s Day G1 Aurora Watch Posted By SWPC

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Northern Lights Now – The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWCP) has posted a G1 geomagnetic storm watch indicating probable KP>5 for February 14th and 15th 2016. This means aurora borealis may be visible in mid latitudes. The timing indicates that Europe and North America will be best positioned for a show Valentine’s Day Evening. As always with storm watches like this, the actual storming period could arrive up to 6 hours before or after the predicted arrival. Now is the time to start monitoring developments in space weather and cloudcover forecasts to know if the northern lights will be visible to you and planning your night our aurora hunting.

Update: Feb 13: NLN is now posting live updates for this storm.

As of the time the watch was posted, Earth is expected to see KP levels at 5 or above from 21:00GMT on 2/14 through 06:00GMT on 2/15 (4:00m-1:00am EST). There may be up to 12 hours past the arrival of the storm where KP may still be in the KP=4+ range. The forecast may be updated as more data comes in, so keep an eye on the NLN 3-day AuroraCast page for updates over the next couple days. As of this post, here is the current AuroraCast:

NLN 3-day Aurora cast for days 2 and 3 shows KP=5 possible on February 14 and 15, 2016
NLN 3-day Aurora cast for days 2 and 3 shows KP=5 possible on February 14 and 15, 2016

This storm is caused by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that erupted from the surface of the Sun during a C8.92 flare on February 11th. You can see that eruption in the northwest (upper left) quadrant of the solar disk in this timelapse captured from the Solar Dynamic Observatory Satellite. SDO is a camera trained on the Sun that takes thousands of high resolution images per day in multiple different wavelengths. As the Flare erupts over the course of almost 90 minutes, you can see a dark area moving up and away from the eruption location. This dark area, several times the size of Earth, is the CME. It appears as dimming because the ejected plasma is cooler than the Sun and located between the Sun and the camera on the SDO sattelite.

C8.92 Solar flare launches from Active Region 2497 on 2/11. The CME may produce Aurora on 2/14 and 2/15

Normally, CME’s take 2-3 days to arrive at Earth after an eruption. The eruption is moving much slower and will take 3-4 days to arrive. That could mean that it will arrive with lower solar wind speed, which would dampen chances for a great show. But it also means that as it arrives, it may put on a longer show. Stay tuned for updates!

Happy Hunting

Slow moving CME from Filament Eruption may arrive at Earth Jan 18

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On January 14, a filament eruption on the south-center earth-facing disk launched what appears to be a slow moving Coronal Mass Ejection. Estimated velocity of the CME indicate it may take as much as 4 to 4.5 days before it arrives at Earth. When it does, it’s possible there will be elevated KP. Due to the slow speed of the the CME, it is unlikely that it will produce significant aurora, but it could increase the KP to the highest it has been since the January 5th aurora.

Here’s an animated GIF of the solar storm launching. This eruption was so slow, that we had to speed up the images to four times the normal speed we show solar events

Slow moving CME launches from filament in the south-center Solar disk on 1/14
Slow moving CME launches from filament in the south-center Solar disk on 1/14

Happy Hunting

Brief G2 Aurora Storm Expected Tonight – January 3

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Update 22:00UTC January 3, 2016

It appears this #CME missed Earth and we won’t be getting an Aurora show tonight. From the beginning this was low confidence forecast. The CME’s signature was well South and West of the Earth-Sun line. If it was just a bit farther to the South or West, Earth would be untouched by the shock. It seems is what has happened. There is a slim, outside chance that it may still arrive, but with each passing hour it is less likely. Here is the output from the SWPC ENLIL model (How to read the ENLIL model) showing the predicted location of the CME:

ENLIL model shows the CME mostly South and West of Earth
ENLIL model shows the CME mostly South and West of Earth

Original Post: 03:00UTC January 3, 2016

Northern Lights Now – SWPC has issued a G2 geomagnetic storm watch for Sunday, January 3rd. Space weather forecasters are expecting a brief but strong storm as the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from a long duration solar flare passes Earth. It is expected to be a glancing blow as the plasma in the CME will pass mostly to the West and South of Earth. The predicted time of arrival of this fast moving CME:

Auroracast from NLN show the SWPC forecast of G2 storming from 4am to 10AM EST
Auroracast from NLN show the SWPC forecast of G2 storming from 4am to 10AM EST

What to expect:
As the edge of the plasma cloud passes Earth, proton levels will continue to rise as displayed on the EPAM. When the shock hits, they will jump then fall. About an hour later, magnetometers on Earth will register the passage of the shock. At that time, if the Bz component is south, there may be a short period of strong aurora. This CME is predicted to be mostly South and West of Earth, and could easily be too far away from Earth to make an impact as it passes, so this is a lower-than-normal confidence forecast.

This is the flare that produced the CME:

Animated GIF of the flare that cause the CME approaching Earth
Animated GIF of the flare that cause the CME approaching Earth

If you are planning on going out hunting tonight, remember to dress warmly. When you are standing still outside at night, you should dress for weather at least 20 degree colder than what is on the thermometer. Here’s a handy last minute guide to hunting aurora.

Stay tuned next week as coronal hole #44 may prompt SWPC to issue a new geomagnetic storm watch for January 5th and/or 6th.

Coronal hole rotating into the Earth Strike zone may prompt a new geomagnetic storm watch later this week
Coronal hole rotating into the Earth Strike zone may prompt a new geomagnetic storm watch later this week

Happy Hunting.