Tag Archives: G2

Live Storm Updates – G2 Aurora Now

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Northern Lights Now – This post contains live updates to the storm predicted in Coronal Hole Prompts G1 Aurora Watch for Sat/Sun March 3rd and 4th.

March 7, 2016 03:45UTC (10:45 PM EST)

Tonight’s Aurora show has ended for most viewers. There may still be some good photos come in from areas that only need KP=4, but for the mostpart it’s time to good to bed for the sleep deprived intrepid aurora hunters. By all accounts it has been a terrific night. The official prediction was for a single 3-hour period of KP=5, but there were 12 hours with the KP in the G1 zone with a peak period of G3 activity:

Boulder KP readings show 12 hours of G1, G2, and G3 activity
Boulder KP readings show 12 hours of of G1, G2, and G3 activity

This evening Eastern North America joined in the action just as the storm was abating – hunters in Prince Edward Island, Maine and New Hampshire all reported success:

PEI from aurora hunter John Morris:

Maine from our friend Rob Wright:

New Hampshire from the Mount Washington Observatory atop the White Mountains:

March 7, 2016 00:30UTC (7:30 PM EST)

The storm has started to abated just a little. But it has been great. We haven’t seen any aurora posted by hunters in North America yet, but we expect at least some from Maine and PEI soon. Bz has been north over the last 20 minutes. If it stays that way, the show will be over in about 45 minutes. If it shifts back to the south, even parts of the midwest could have an opportunity for aurora tonight.

March 6, 2016 19:30UTC (5:30 PM EST)

This is an absolutely amazing storm! Bz continues to be south as much as 10nT, Bt has been between 10nT and 20nT for hours, and there are clear skies in much of the UK and Ireland. One indicator of the strength of this is storm is all the reports of Red hues to the aurora.

Check out these wonderful aurora tweets:

March 6, 2016 17:00UTC (3:00 PM EST)

This storm is continuing to get stronger. KP is predicted to be 6.67 in 45 minutes. Aurora reports are streaming in on Twitter from

Ireland:

Northumberland :

and Netherlands:

March 6, 2016 16:00UTC (2:00 PM EST)

As expected, the Wing KP model was under-estimating the strength of this storm. The Boulder Kp which is based on ground measurments over the last three hours was just updated to 5.67 indicating G2 storming. There is nothing in the data to suggest this won’t be a very good storm for Europe and possibly Iceland and the northeastern US once it gets dark. Here’s a snapshot of the current Ovation model output:

Ovation shows the extent and strength of Aurora continuing to increase
Ovation shows the extent and strength of Aurora continuing to increase

March 6, 2016 13:00UTC (11:00 PM EST)

Solar wind data at ACE is indicating that the high speed solar wind from the coronal hole is arriving. The Bz component of the magnetic field is oriented south and has been for over an hour and a half. Wing KP (which the graph to the right and in the post below) is based on is indicating a predicted KP of 4.00. This likely an underestimate of the actual KP. Once the Boulder ground-based KP readings come in, the wing KP model will respond with higher readings. This is looking like it could be a good storm!

Wing KP is showing expected KP of 4.0 soon
Wing KP is showing expected KP of 4.0 soon

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.

Winter Solstice 2015 Solar Storm Recap

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Northern Lights Now – On December 20th and 21st of 2015 the third largest geomagnetic storm of solar cycle 24 treated aurora hunters to 30 hours of dancing lights. The long duration of the storm gave nighttime photographers in North America two opportunities to see the northern lights through gaps in the clouds. Aurora reports on Twitter filled the NLN feed with images first from Wisconsin, then Alberta, Alaska, New Zealand, Northern Europe, Austria, Germany, England, Ireland, Iceland and then the North America again. Here is a chart of the official NOAA/SWPC recorded KP values from Boulder during the storm:

Boulder recorded 30 hours of G1-G2 storming during the winter solstice storm. of 2015
Boulder recorded 30 hours of G1-G2 storming during the winter solstice storm. of 2015

This solar storm started from two events on the Sun’s surface. The first was a long duration C6.69 flare at nearly dead center in the Earth strike zone. The second was a filament eruption to the south and east of the first eruption. Both events produced CMEs. Read more about the pair of eruptions NLN’s initial blog post on this storm.

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland by Roy Smith Photo:

The CMEs from these two storms arrived later than initially predicted. Initial predictions were that the leading edge of the CME would reach Earth early in the day on December 19. The CME’s initial interplanetary shock was detected in ACE satellite data around 1520 GMT. Those 15 hours were time that many nighttime photographers wished they were sleeping instead!

Once they arrived, the two storms hit in sequence, not quite merging. As the storms played out, both had strongly negative Bz. Negative Bz is an aurora hunter’s dream. Once the field shifts south, a good show is sure to come – but we never know Bz until Earth is in the CME cloud. Space Weather scientists are still anticipate a long time before Bz can be accurately predicted in advance of a CME arrival. For now, forecasters assume arriving CMEs plasma clouds have a roughly 50/50 chance of being oriented with a Bz south.

In the Winter Solstice Storm of 2015, once the Bz shifted south, it stayed strongly south for 32 hours from 02:30GUTC on the 20th through 1030UTC on the 21st. During that time, the Bz deflection remained around -16 to -18 nT. Interestingly, after the initial shock, solar wind speeds stayed relatively low at below 450km/s for the duration of the storm. Had solar wind speeds been stronger, it’s possible that G3 level storming might have occurred. The slow wind speeds probably increased the duration of the storm (if the CME was moving faster, it would have completed it’s pass by Earth more quickly).

With a special shoutout to @VirtualAstro who helped surface some of these, here are some of our favorite images from this worldwide display of northern lights:

Swirls of green glow behind snow covered pine trees in Alaska by David W. Shaw

Green and yellow arches in the sky behind a church in Alberta by Célestine Aerden:

A string of pearls in the sky, technically called Auroral Beads, @Inukphysiker called this “lightsabors in the sky”

Another star wars reference came from Notanee Bourassa with this light-sabor aurora selfie

Team Tanner in Alberta often captures wonderful northern lights images, this anelic set was from Theresa (Tree) Tanner:

Finally, a stunning backdrop of purples and greens behind a solitary KW photography in Upstate New York:

Happy Hunting!