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Aurora Live Blog – October 2016 G2 Storm

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Northern Lights Now – There is a 72 hour G2 storm watch in effect from October 24 through October 27, NLN will be live blogging the storm here. Please check back often

Update #10: 0300 UTC 10/29/2016 (midnight EST 10/29/2016)

Earth has been under the influence of that large coronal hole for over 4 days. The last several days have been less exciting than the first day and a half, but over the last 3 hours, activity has picked back up. G1 storming conditions have started up again. Here are the current recorded KP values from Boulder:

On the tail end of this storm, another period of G1 storming is recorded
On the tail end of this storm, another period of G1 storming is recorded

The storming is showing up vibrantly on the Tromso all-sky cam. It’s clear there, the moon is nearly new, and the Aurora is filling the sky!

Exciting full sky of aurora from the Tromso all-sky web cam
Exciting full sky of aurora from the Tromso all-sky web cam

It’s possible this storming could continue several hours. Keep an eye on the KP.

Update #9: 2300 UTC 10/26/2016 (7:00pm EST 10/26/2016)

As evening sets in across the East Coast, the KP drops. KP=4 in the short term forecast. It could go back up any time.

Update #8: 1700 UTC 10/26/2016 (1:00pm EST 10/26/2016)

An two hour period of Bz south from about 14:45 to 16:45UTC pushed storming levels back to G2 (KP=5.67 and above) since the last update. Conditions continue to be favorable for northern lights and will likely to be for the next 12-24 hours at least. Here’s a snapshot of the current recorded KP from boulder, where the most recent period of G2 is visible.

Recorded KP conditions from Boulder as of mid afternoon UTC on October 26
Recorded KP conditions from Boulder as of mid afternoon UTC on October 26

If you are planning on going out tonight, you might want to check out NLN’s handy Last Minute Aurora Viewing Preparation Guide, there are some great tips for what to do before you go out and while you are out. Please bundle up! It’s cold across much of the northern viewing spots and you may be standing still for a long time.

Update #7: 1400 UTC 10/26/2016 (10:00am EST 10/26/2016)

Solar wind speeds have now been elevated for over 24 hours. The big winners from last night’s aurora hunt seem to have been in Europe with some terrific images coming from Denmark.

Here are two time lapse videos from overnight

Update #6: 0345 UTC 10/26/2016 (11:45pm EST 10/25/2016)

Last update for tonight. Solar wind is has exceeded 800 km/s and is in the “very high” range. It does appear that wingKP continues to over estimate the actual KP. There is still enough activity that high latitude clear locations should get a show. Keep an eye on the Bz, if it goes back south for another extended period, there could be a new substorm at any moment.

Solar wind speed has exceeded 800 k/s in the last hour
Solar wind speed has exceeded 800 k/s in the last hour

Seven games is a long series. There is plenty of time left for a comeback.

Update #5: 0200 UTC 10/26/2016 (10:00pm EST 10/25/2016)

Let’s go Cubs! It’s the 6th inning and the Indians are leading 3-0.

The solar storm is continuing. Bz has been variable for most of 10/25 UTC, but there were some periods where there were extended periods with negative Bz. In the spirit of baseball, here’s a random statistic: Of 1440 total minutes in the day, Bz was only negative for 458 of them.

Chicago cubs are in the world series tonight
Chicago cubs are in the world series tonight

Update #4: 2130 UTC 10/25/2016 (5:30pm EST 10/25/2016)

It is now dark in Europe and reports of Northern Lights are rolling in. WingKP predictions have been consistently in the 5.67-7.67 range for the last several hours. It’s important to note that when the wind speed is high and there is a particularly strong ground reading (like the G3 mentioned in the last update) that the wingKP model can overestimate. Even with the overestimate, there is still very strong active storming ongoing now.

About an hour ago, Bz shifted to into a new and solidly southward orientation. It is evident in the graph below starting at about 20:45 UTC. This should give a very nice substorm to Aurora hunters out under the lights for the 45-70 minutes (click the image for full screen).

A consistent period of Bz South should reward aurora hunters over the next hour or so
A consistent period of Bz South should reward aurora hunters over the next hour or so

Here are some Photos from Twitter. Thanks for sharing!

From New Zealand:

Update #3: 1630 UTC 10/25/2016 (12:30pm EST 10/25/2016)

Exciting times! SWPC at Boulder reported a period of G3 storming over the last three hours. Current KP predictions are showing consistently G1-G2 storming. Solar wind conditions are favorable to aurora hunters. Make sure your camera batteries are charged, and check out your cloud cover forecast.

SQPC Boulder reported KP activity levels show G3 storming
SQPC Boulder reported KP activity levels show G3 storming
Strong KP Predicted over the next hour
Strong KP Predicted over the next hour

Update #2: 1300 UTC 10/25/2016 (9:00am EST 10/25/2016)

Solar wind speed has increased to over 600 km/s, and there have been periods of Bz south overnight. The first wave of G1 storming of this storm is predicted in the next 50 minutes or so, with an expected KP of 5.33. There were a couple Twitter reports of Aurora overnight, here’s one from Corinne in Northern Wisconsin

Would you like your photo shared in this live blog? Share it on Twitter and be sure to tag @NorthLightAlert

Update #1: 0300 UTC 10/25/2016 (11:00pm EST 10/24/2016)

One full day into the watch period and the high solar winds are running a little late compared to the forecast. Late on 10/24, winds started to increase to 450 km/s. Over the next 6-8 hours they could increase to as much as 700 km/s. There haven’t been any KP=5 active periods yet, but there has been enough activity for some sporatic reports of aurora in Finland and Iceland to trickle in. Stay tuned, there is likely more to come. Take a moment to appreciate how large this coronal hole has become, in the AIA 211 image in encompasses most of the visible solar disk

Very large coronal hole will bring days of active aurora conditions
Very large coronal hole will bring days of active aurora conditions

Surprise G1 Aurora Storm on August 23/24 2016

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Northern Lights Now – The high speed wind stream from a coronal hole that was pointed towards Earth on August 21 is arriving with a stronger than expected impact. As a result KP values are reflecting an ongoing G1 level storm. The storm has allowed aurora hunters to see the lights in Denmark and Sweden and in the US in Maine. The initial forecasts only called for a period of enhanced solar wind speeds and a max KP value of 4. This is the coronal hole that is currently impacting Earth as it looked on August 21:

Aug 21 coronal hole produces Aurora and G1 storming on Aug 23rd and 24th
Aug 21 coronal hole produces Aurora and G1 storming on Aug 23rd and 24th

The high speed wind arrived earlier than expected, and stronger than expected. As an added bonus for our readers, it arrived with a period of several hours of southern oriented Bz. When the Bz component of the magnetic fields have negative readings, it means aurora are more likely. As this storm was building, it arrived with a period of over 4 hours where the Bz was negative from about 16:00-20:00 UTC. At points it was strongly negative with readings of -10Bz. This is the image of NLN’s accumulated aurora power chart from the peak of the first wave of the storm:

DISOVR accumulate Aurora power Graph from the peak of the first wave of the storm
DISOVR accumulate Aurora power Graph from the peak of the first wave of the storm

There are a couple interesting things to point out in that graph:

  • At the time of the snapshot the total magnetic field (Bt) had been strong for over 12 hours, and very strong in the last hour.
  • Wind speeds had really only just started picking up in the last 2 hours.
  • The real kicker was that Bz had been negative for over 2 hours and was as strong at -10nT (very strong) for 5 minutes.

It is rare that a coronal hole triggers all 4 of these metrics at the same time on this chart. When they are all there, it’s a good sign for aurora hunters.

Here are some of the shots that we saw come in on Twitter:

Some of the first Images of this storm came from Denmark by @ADphotography24:

Another from Sweden by Göran Strand (Also the first wave of this storm):

From Rob Write (@RobWrightImages) on the Southern Maine Coast (in the second wave of this storm):

As of 3:20 UTC August 24 at the time of this writing, the storm has subsided a little. It looks like there could be anywhere from 3-6 more hours of enhanced solar wind speeds, and at any point the Bz could dip back south. If it does, Aurora hunters could be in for more of a treat. Keep an eye on the solar wind data.

Also, there is another coronal hole rotating towards Earth that has a history of producing good aurora. This could impact Earth on Aug 30th and 31st…. stay tuned!

Happy Hunting

August 2nd & 3rd Solar Storm Live Blog

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Northern Lights Now – SWPC has posted a G2 storm watch for August 2nd and a G1 storm watch for August 3rd. NLN will keep a live blog of the storm as it unfolds here.

Update 8/4 2:30 UTC (10:30pm EST)

A quick recap: The big winners for aurora photography in this storm were the Northern states west of the Great Lakes and Canada, New Zealand and Tasmania. Denmark was also in the sweet spot at the very beginning of the storm when the initial CME arrived. There were a couple pictures of faint pillars in ME, NH and VT as well.

Solar wind never quite reached the high levels expected in the prediction. The helps explain why the storming started a little later than predicted also – if the wind is moving slower, it takes longer to travel from the Sun to Earth. In the end there were four periods of G1 storming recorded.

Thanks for following along for this storm!

This solar storm is done, in total 4 periods of G1, and 4 periods of KP=4. 24 hours total.
This solar storm is done, in total 4 periods of G1, and 4 periods of KP=4. 24 hours total.

Update 8/3 16:30 UTC (12:30pm EST)

The storm seem be dying down. Solar wind speeds have picked up, but they did not reach the predicted 600+ km/s. Here’s a create timelapse video from overnight from Robert Snache (@spirithands)

Update 8/3 11:00 UTC (7:00am EST)

So many wonderful pictures overnight. There were 3 periods of G1 recorded, and it appears there is a 4th happening now. There is an outside chance that the current period will reach G2. Here are a couple tweet with aurora pictures the we’ve seen overnight:

Back of cam:

Angel Brise finds some gems on webcams:

In Regina:

Neil Zeller:

Update 8/3 04:45 UTC (12:45am EST)

Starting about an hour ago, Bz dipped back south. Bt is still very strong, so this may be enough to produce some more pillars in the mid-latitudes. Aurora hunters will still probably need long exposures to get a good view. KP=5.33 (G1) in 20 minutes. Here’s a look at the boulder KP 3-hour averages so far – notice that storming didn’t technically reach G2 levels during the last substorm:

Two periods of storming so far in this solar storm
Two periods of storming so far in this solar storm

Update 8/2 23:00 UTC (7:00pm EST)

G2 storming is now predicted by the Wing-KP model. KP=6 shortly! This is almost exactly when the initial forecasts indicated we might see G2 storming. The strong solar wind hasn’t really picked up yet – wind speeds have only just touched 450 km/s.

Wing-KP shows KP=6 soon on August 2
Wing-KP shows KP=6 soon on August 2

Bz shifted to the north, so NLN is expecting this storm to be short lived. Good luck. Hopefully there will be more later tonight

Update 8/2 22:30 UTC (6:30pm EST)

First aurora picture of the night! This tweet shows a photo from Denmark by Twitter follower @ADphotography24

Update 8/2 21:45 UTC (5:45pm EST)

Around 8:00am UTC Bz made a decisive shift to the south. This should be good for aurora hunters and we expect to see some pictures coming in soon. We also expect the wing-KP models to reflect this aurora within the next 2-3 hrs.

Update 8/2 06:30 UPC (2:30am EST)

The first hints of the expected solar storm from the filament eruption appear to be arriving. Solar wind, density and Bt/Bz all reflected the shocks impact. The shock was weaker than expected, but also a little earlier than expected. We’re not really expecting any aurora yet, still plenty of hours ahead for a show.

Initial CME arrives around 04:00 UTC on August 2
Initial CME arrives around 04:00 UTC on August 2