Tag Archives: northern lights

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!

SWPC Issues G1 Geomagnetic Storm Watch For April 2, 2016

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Northern Lights Now – The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, CO has issued a G1 Geomagnetic storm watch for April 2nd, 2016 indicating that there could be isolated periods of KP=5 aurora. This predicted activity is the result of a negative polarity coronal hole that was pointed towards Earth yesterday. The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) is expected to be disturbed, and the higher speed winds from the coronal hole will likely be enough to disturb Earth’s magnetic fields.

AuroraCast shows two periods of G1 storming expected on April 2nd
AuroraCast shows two periods of G1 storming expected on April 2nd

The coronal hole responsible for the predicted activity produced a period of G3 storming on the previous rotation, but has changed structure and looks like it is unlikely that it will be as strong. Data from STEREO-A showed that this coronal hole still has a good chance of producing negative Bz at Earth as the high speed wind arrives. While the structure of the coronal hole has changed, there is still a possibility it could pack a punch. NLN would not be surprised if there is a brief period of G2 activity during the storming.

In addition, the coronal hole is located adjacent to Active Region 2526. While that region has been quiet, it still has the possibility of flaring. If it does flare, and the flare releases a CME, it will the impact at Earth will be enhanced by the coronal hole. The period where a flare from this region could erupt and impact Earth is only about 24 hours from now. As it has been quiet, and it lost magnetic complexity over the last 24 hours, This scenario remains a remote possibility. Keep an eye on this region.

The second coronal hole that is to the North and East of the initial CH has grown and become more defined over the past 24 hours. This CH could impact Earth late on the 3rd and on the 4th. If it continues to grow or there is activity on it’s permeter, it is possible that the G1 watch could be extended additional days.

As this storm develops and space weather forecasters know more NLN will keep the 3-day auroraCast updated.

Happy Hunting!