Tag Archives: G2

Aurora on April 2nd and 3rd Live Blog

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Northern Lights Now – SWPC has upgraded the storm watch posted yesterday from G1 to G2 and extended the watch an additional 24 hours. NLN will be live blogging this storm and sharing updates as they are available – check back often over the next 36 hours for updates.

Tim Peake on the International Space Station:


Update 3:00 AM UTC 4/3/2016 (11:00pm EST -4/2/2016)

Some lights over Rovaniemi, Finland from All About Lapland:

In Tasmania, there was a hint of the Southern Lights on the horizon:

Update 10:00 PM UTC 4/3/2016 (6:00pm EST)

This will be the last post for this period of geomagnetic activity, unless the storm surprises and kicks back up again. In the end this storm was limited to a single period where KP reached the G2 threshold and a second period where it peaked at G1 over a total of nine hours. This isn’t far off from what we originally predicted. The storm arrived about 12 hours later than the preditions. The peak wind speeds meaured was 548km/s, almost exactly as forecast, but the 5 minute average measured speed never passed 520km/s.

There were some people who caught a glimpse of the Aurora, thank you for sharing!

This storm may be wrapping up. Solar wind speeds have already started decreases and are now below 500km/s. KP has also been slowing decreasing after about 4 hours of G1 storming from 18:00 to 22:00 UTC. Once the official data from Boulder is available, we should get confirmation that there was a brief period of G2 storming as well.

The timing and clouds mean not many people got to see aurora during this storm. Astronaughts on the International Space Station should have seen some of the show, and there’s a chance that hunters in New Zealand and possible around the great lakes may have seen some of the show. Please share your pictures with us on Twitter and follow NLN (@northLightAlert) too if you aren’t already.

Update 8:45pm UTC 4/2/2016 (5:45pm EST)

Boulder is reporting one period of G1 storming so far. There has been a brief period where the wing KP was predicting G2 storming (at 6.33 – the peak in the chart below). This storm is coming in just about as expected. It was a little late, which indicates that the solar wind was a little slower than the models, and with the wind a little slower the max KP is a little lower. But the slower wind speed also means the storm could last a little longer than the original forecast. If Bz stays negative there could be an extended period of G1 activity giving North America a show tonight.

Boulder is reporting one period of G1 storming so far tonight
Boulder is reporting one period of G1 storming so far tonight
NLN's inforgraphic showing wing KP and Ovation aurora oval from tonight
NLN’s inforgraphic showing wing KP and Ovation aurora oval from tonight

Most of the normal aurora hot spots in Europe were clouded in tonight, so there weren’t many northern lights reports. The skies look much clearer over North America tonight. If the storm continues for several more hours (very possible), American and Canadian aurora hunter should be rewarded.

Clear Skies perdicted across most of North America this evening
Clear Skies perdicted across most of North America this evening

Update 4:00pm UTC 4/2/2016 (1:00pm EST)

The solarstorm is now arriving. Solar wind speeds have increased to above 450 km/s. This storm appears to be arriving with the Bz oriented South. This is great news for aurora hunters. If Bz stays negative (south) over the next several hours, KP shold increase into the G1 and Possbly G2 range.

Data (visualizations from spaceweatherlive) showing solarstorm arriving.
Data (visualizations from spaceweatherlive) showing solarstorm arriving.

Update 11:00am UTC 4/2/2016 (7:00am EST)

The expected solar wind has not arrived at Earth yet. In the last hour there have been hints that it may be about to be detected. The Solar Wind Density has increased and is currently registering above 10 parts per cubic centimeter after increasing from the ambient 1-4 p/cm3. This is sometimes a short-term leading indicator that anticipates the increase in wind speed. It is often the case that space weather predictions miss by +/-6 hours, so this is not unexpected.

Solar wind  density has increased to above 7 p/cm3 in the last half hour
Solar wind density has increased to above 7 p/cm3 in the last half hour

The delay in the arrival of the expected activity hints that it may be weaker than initially anticipated, but also that it may last longer than initially anticipated. Aurora hunters are now in wait-and-see mode for this storm.

Update 4:00am UTC 4/2/2016 (Midnight EST)

SWPC has upgraded the expected storm from G1 to G2, they are now expecting a period of Moderate storming in the second 3 hour block after the storm arrives. The watch period has also been extended into April 3rd. Here’s the snapshot of the auroracast forecast for today and tomorrow.

AuroraCast shows G2 storming on 4/2 and G1 storming on 4/3
AuroraCast shows G2 storming on 4/2 and G1 storming on 4/3

Solar wind is still at ambient levels at between 330 and 350 km/s. It should pick up over the next several hours.

Happy Hunting!

One Year Anniversary of St. Paddy’s Day Aurora 2016

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Northern Lights Now – St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, falls on a Thursday this year providing the perfect Throwback Thursday to last year, when the strongest Aurora storm of the current solar cycle arrived at Earth. Aurora hunters, including Dan Russell and this author, the Burlington VT based founders of NLN, were treated to hours on end of wondrous dancing lights. Dan and I captured these purple pillars with a camera on a tripod setup on the frozen ice of Lake Champlain:

Purple Aurora Pillars
Aurora glow and purple pillars visible in NLN’s photograph from St. Patrick’s Day Aurora Storm 2015

The storm that produced this aurora was only predicted to be 12-18 hours of G1 storming prompted by a filament eruption followed by a long duration C9 solar flare. Both events launched CMEs towards Earth, and as they arrived it became clear they were oriented just right for a long duration and very strong show. The plasma cloud from the filament and the CME from the flare arrived almost in unison. This sent the Bz strongly south by as much as 23nT. Bz remained south for over 24 hours, and the solar wind speeds increased to over 600km/s. By the time the storm subsided, there were two full days of G1+ activity including periods of G4:

Two full days of G1 storming reflected in the KP 3-hour chart from Boulder
Two full days of G1 storming reflected in the KP 3-hour chart from Boulder

This was not an easy storm to photograph in Vermont. The forecast for the evening did not look promising from the start. It was supposed to be cloudy all day and through the night on March 17 and it was cold! It was 24 degrees, and the wind was howling at 20 with gusts to 35mph (no exaggeration!) The northern lights activity was predicted to die down as the sun set over Lake Champlain, so at best there might only be a short window. As the afternoon waned, two factors came together nicely – first the storm was clearly stronger than expected, second there were hints in the very short term forecast that there could be a window where the clouds broke apart between sunset and about 9:30.

Cloudcover for St Paddy's day storm 2015 shows hints of clear skies for  Lake Champlain
Cloudcover for St Paddy’s day storm 2015 shows hints of clear skies for Lake Champlain

The batteries were charged, so we set up the cameras. This was a particularly cold March in Northern New England after a particularly cold winter. Lake Champlain and Mallott’s bay still had a thick layer of ice. We set the camera up pointed North and watched as a break in the clouds moved from West to East. When the sky cleared aurora were visible to the naked eye and we captured the image at the top of this post. There was a 45 minute window before the clouds rolled back in. Every Aurora hunter knows that feeling when the night is over because the clouds roll in. Dan and I went inside to warm up and to start processing images. While we sat inside, a squall came through dumping over an inch of snow.

At midnight, just as it was time to turn in, we looked out the window and it was crystal clear and there was red aurora in the sky to the North visible to the naked eye. We set the cameras up and let the intervalometer snap 5 second exposures on our Fujifilm X-T1 and Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 cameras. Did I mention it was cold? Now that it had snowed, the north wind was creating a “ground blizzard” as it picked up the freshly fallen snow and blew it across the lake at 20 mph. Here’s what Dan and I looked like, huddled behind a raised block of ice acting as a wind barrier, as we waited for the second round of photos at 1:00am.

Charles and Dan Shelter from the wind while time lapse camera snaps photos
Charles and Dan Shelter from the wind while time lapse camera snaps photos

It was worth it! At the end we had this time lapse that shows both the 8:30-9:30pm and 12:30-1:30am periods where the sky was clear. You can see the ice on the lake, and watch the clouds roll in during the first section, then in the second see one of the most amazing displays of Red, Green and Purple we’ve been lucky enough to experience.

Happy Hunting!

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