Tag Archives: geomagnetic storm watch

June 4-5 G2 Storm Live Blog

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Northern Lights Now – NLN will be live blogging tonight’s expected G2 solar storm, please come back often for updates.

Update 11:00am UTC 6/6/2016 (7:00am EST)

Sure enough! There was another substorm left in this active period. KP reached G2 levels in the 3-6am UTC period, while the short term KP forecast actually briefly reaching G3. Northern lights reports streamed in from western New York through the upper Midwest on Twitter. As of this update, KP is still in the G1 range, but the Bz shifted decisively north, so it may be done for good now. Thanks live tracking this storm with NLN! Here are some of those Twitter posts:

Update 2:00am UTC 6/6/2016 (11:00pm EST)

The storm is winding down. Solar winds are still high, but proton density and Bt have decreased. Bz is not making sustained or deep moves in the negative direction. The storm had one brief period where the short term forecast reached G2 levels, but the max three-hour activity was measured at G1. The timing of this storm also did not align well for aurora hunters as there were clouds in most places that would have been visible. New Zealand was the big winner. There still a chance a good substorm could produce Aurora for hunters in the midwest or Central Canada over the next couple hours, but it is becoming less and less likely. Here’s the graph of storm activity from this storm showing 4 periods of G1:

June 4-6 storm recap shows 4 periods of G1 storming.
June 4-6 storm recap shows 4 periods of G1 storming.

Update 9:00pm UTC 6/5/2016 (6:00pm EST)

The storm is still stirring! The Wing-KP model is now predicting KP=5.67 in 50 minutes. Solar wind speed are over 600 km/s and Bz is moving in and out of negative. If there is a sustained negative Bz, KP could shoot up into the G3 storming range. Best bet for aurora is Europe south of the “land of the midnight Sun.” Iceland won’t be getting dark enough for a show tonight, and it’s cloudy on the American East coast. If the storm lasts long enough hunters in the western great lakes and into the plains could get lucky.

G2 aurora storming predicted in 54 minutes.
G2 aurora storming predicted in 54 minutes.
Solar Wind speed has now exceeded 600 km/s
Solar Wind speed has now exceeded 600 km/s

Update 2:30pm UTC 6/5/2016 (11:30am EST)

Short term predictions now include KP=5.00 or G1 storming! Expect more aurora reports from the southern hemisphere soon!

G1 storming begins!
G1 storming begins!

Update 2:00pm UTC 6/5/2016 (11:00am EST)

Solar wind speeds are now reading above 500 km/s, the storm is arriving. It is arriving about 12 hours later than initially forecast, but it’s here. The timing is such that most of North America missed the first part of this storm. Our Kiwi and Aussie friends should get a good show though. If the storm continues on long enough, European aurora hunters may also get a treat. There have been a couple early Aurora reports from NZ. Here’s a back of cam picture of the beginning of the storm from Ian Griffin:

Update 10:00am UTC 6/5/2016 (6:00am EST)

Not much to report yet. Wind speeds over the lat hour climbed to as high as 390 km/s, but are still well off of the predicted speeds. In a hint of good news, Bz has been negative over the last hour. That negative Bz has helped push the predicted Bz to 4.33, it’s highest level of the storm. This shows that even with weak wind, a strong Bt and proton density plus a favorable Bz can be enough for aurora hunters. Stay tuned, the next 12 hours could be interesting.

predicted KP jumps to 4.33, the highest so far of this storm, due to negative Bz
predicted KP jumps to 4.33, the highest so far of this storm, due to negative Bz

Update 2:30am UTC 6/5/2016 (10:30pm EST)

Over the last three hours, the solar wind environment has started to reflect the influence of the coronal hole. Density has increased from around 3-4 parts per cubic centimeter to over 10, with spikes to 40+. The solar wind speed has increased slightly from ~300 km/s to 325-350 km/s. Over the next several hours, we’re expecting solar wind to gradually increase, it could reach as high as 600 km/s. Once the wind speed is higher, watch the Bz. If it shifts south, aurora should follow soon after. Here’s a graphic of the solar wind environment from the SWPC, note the distinct change in density profile and wind speed (labeled radial speed) around 23:00:

24 hours solar wind data from SWPC shows enhancement beginning around 23:00
24 hours solar wind data from SWPC shows enhancement beginning around 23:00

Update 9:30pm UTC 6/4/2016 (5:30pm EST)

The first hints that the solar storm may be arriving are showing in the ACE solar wind data. Proton density has slowly increased to 5 p/cm3 over the last 45 minutes, and took a sudden jump to 11 p/cm3 in the last 5 minutes. This was accompanied by an increase in Bt to 5 nT. It will still be several hours before there is any real chance for Aurora, but this is the first hint that activity may be picking up.

Short Spike in proton density is the first hint that expected activity may be arriving.
Short Spike in proton density is the first hint that expected activity may be arriving.

G2 Storm Watch Issued, Aurora Possible June 4, 2016

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Northern Lights Now – The large coronal hole that was responsible for the May 6-8 Mother’s Day G3 aurora storm is pointed toward earth again and has potential to create aurora this weekend. SWPC has posted a G2 storm watch for June 4, with a period of predicted G1 and G2 (KP=5, KP6 respectively) storming late in the UTC day. It is likely this watch will be extended to June 5 tomorrow. This means good aurora conditions are possible on Friday and Saturday evenings – particularly in the southern hemisphere where it is winter and the nights are longer.

The Dark area in center disk is the coronal hole that may produce aurora on June 4
The Dark area in center disk is the coronal hole that may produce aurora on June 4

The initial estimates for the timing of the arrival of the solar wind are often off by several hours, but the current estimates show two periods of G1 storming starting around 1500 GMT, then a period of G2 storming starting in the 2100 GMT timeperiod. This is good timing for European and North American aurora chasers, but NLN is expecting the storm to last long enough that it will be good for the evening of June 5 in New Zealand and Southern Australia. As of June 1, this is the NLN aurora clock for the day covered in the watch period:

NLN auroraCast shows G1 and G2 periods of storming in the final 3 periods of June 4
NLN auroraCast shows G1 and G2 periods of storming in the final 3 periods of June 4

Happy Hunting!

Night Sky May 30, 2016 – Mars, ISS and Aurora

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Northern Lights Now – May 30 will be a great night to go stargazing! There is a slight chance for aurora overnight on May 30/May 31, and Mars will shine brightly red as it is at it’s closest to Earth in 13 years. If you are lucky enough to be in the Northeast united states, there will also be a terrific International Space Station (ISS) pass just after sunset.

Aurora

A coronal hole was directed towards Earth three days ago and the high speed solar wind stream that it generated should be arriving this afternoon. As the high speed winds arrive, they will push on the Earth’s magnetosphere making aurora possible. This is a weak coronal hole, and so it is unlikely to produce a strong light show. Nonetheless, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a G1 geomagnetic storm watch indicating KP could exceed 5. Here’s an image of the coronal hole from Thursday.

Coronal hole in AIA 211 from the SDO from 5/26/2016..
Coronal hole in AIA 211 from the SDO from 5/26/2016..

SWPC also publishes a 30-75 minute lead time alert indicating what the KP will be based on data coming from the DSCOVR satellite. That feed drives NLN’s live KP chart, but it has been returning bad data since Thursday. Given that it is a holiday in the United States, we aren’t anticipating that it will be functional until at least tomorrow. That means aurora hunters will be flying blind! You can see the current solar wind data from ACE here. Your best bet is to go out and hope there is a show.

Mars

Also in the May 30th sky, Mars is at it’s brightest in the Earth sky in 11 years. The red planet is in the closest position it gets to Earth (known as “opposition”) which happens about once every 2 years and 2 months. This approach is actually the closest since 2003, when NASA sent the Opportunity and Spirit rovers to Mars. It will visible as a bright red “star” rising right around sunset. It will be easy to find in the southeastern (Northeastern for our southern followers) sky in the hours just after sunset. If you go out stargazing tonight, keep an eye out it.

Infographic from EarthSky showing the location of Mars relative to the moon.
Infographic from EarthSky showing the location of Mars relative to the moon.

This great article from EarthSky explains in detail that tonight Mars will be 46.8 million miles from Earth, and why this is the best viewing year in the last 11 years. Well worth the read.

ISS

If you are in the Northeast States in the United States, there’s yet another reason to be out stargazing tonight. At about 9:12, the International Space Station will make a very bright flyby. It will be moving from the Southwest sky to the Northeast. It should be visible for some people for almost 6 minutes. Use the Astroviewer Observation web page to find the exact time for your location.

ISS will pass directly over Burlington, and be visible to most people in the Northeast May 30 starting around 9:12pm
ISS will pass directly over Burlington, and be visible to most people in the Northeast May 30 starting around 9:12pm

Happy Hunting!