Northern Lights Now – It may be approaching the quieter part of the Solar cycle, but the Sun isn’t done giving Aurora hunters eye candy yet. A solar storm launched on May 23 from the Sun arrived at Earth with a bang late Saturday. The setup of the storm was great for viewing aurora, the Moon was a waxing crescent, it was the weekend, many of the top viewing spots had clear skies, and the CME was oriented in a nearly perfect angle.
In Vermont, this turned out to be one of the best storms I have personally seen. The KP started rising quickly mid-to-late afternoon. Around Sunset the KP hit 6.33 – high enough that it should be possible to see the aurora dance. By 1:00am it was full on “Pants on” time. I drove to Malletts Bay.
As I arrived, the sky was dancing. Another photographer was just finishing up a half hour time-lapse. Even with some light pollution from Colchester, Montreal, and Plattsburgh, it was easy to see the sky glowing and pillars moving. Lake Champlain was calm so it was possible to see the aurora reflecting off the water.
With the Bz solidly below -15nT, the show would go on for 6+ hours. Like any northern lights, the intensity varied from minute to minute. At times it looked like the show might be over. At other times I felt like the luckiest guy on Earth.
One of those lucky moments was getting to watch a meteor streak and flash through the sky. My camera wasn’t pointed in the right direction (or in an exposure at the moment), but a fellow photographer and friend caught it! Here is Brian Drourr’s photo from the moment it streaked by
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Here are some Photos from Twitter. Thanks for sharing!
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.
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