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Late October 2017 Aurora Strom Live Blog

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Northern Lights Now – Space weather forecasters are predicting 3 days of active aurora conditions. NLN is activating the live blog. We’ll aim to update a couple times a day, or as warranted, so check back often

NLN Live Blog Update – Fri, Sept 27, 02:15 UTC (23:15 EST 10/26)
Live blog time: 74h 15m

We’re calling it. This storm is over. Solar wind speeds have dropped back below 500 km/s. This storm netted two periods of G1 storming. Thank you for tacking it with NLN!

NLN Live Blog Update – Thurs, Sept 26, 13:30 UTC (10:30 EST 10/26)
Live blog time: 61h 30m

The Magnetosphere is now starting to rattle a bit. Bz has sustatined a negative orientation for over 6 hours. This is conducive to aurora and geomagnetic activity. KP has been between 4 and 5 for several hours now. If this continues, G1 is almost certain and G2 is possible.

In the DSCOVR wind chart below, the red bar shows that Bz has been negative for over 6 hours, the two blue bars show that wind speeds have been > 500 km/s for over 48 hours.

Solar wind now conducive to G1 storming
Solar wind now conducive to G1 storming

NLN Live Blog Update – Thurs, Sept 26, 03:15 UTC (23:15 EST 10/25)
Live blog time: 51h 15m

It has been quiet today on the aurora front. Total magnetic fields (Bt) have stayed relatively weak for ranging between 4 and 6 nT, and Bz has been variable. With no prolonged periods of strong Bz south, there has been very little aurora activity. There was one period of G1 storming today and no periods of G2.

Solar wind speeds are still elevated at around 600 km/s and there could be a prolonged period of Bz south at any point, but with each passing hour it is less likely. Today’s busted storm watch goes to show that we need more data from additional satellites to do a really good job of forecasting geomagnetic activity.

Despite the low activity, some aurora reports for the higher latitudes are coming in:

NLN Live Blog Update – Tue, Sept 25, 03:15 UTC (23:15 EST 10/24)
Live blog time: 27h 15m

Solar winds have continued to increase over the last 6 hours and are now in the 600 km/s range with a brief peak above 625 km/s. There was a period of about an hour where Bz was predominantly negative and it produced a period of G1 storming. So far this nearly exactly confirms the posted watch for 10/24. Wing KP models also registered a short term prediction of KP=5.67 for around 02:00 UTC, but this was not measured on the ground. Here is the chart of the measured KPs so far for this storm:

Recorded KP values from boulder confirm the 10/24 G1 storm watch
Recorded KP values from boulder confirm the 10/24 G1 storm watch

NLN Live Blog Update – Tue, Sept 24, 16:15 UTC (12:15 EST 10/24)
Live blog time: 16h 15m

Earth has now entered the high speed wind stream. Solar wind speeds are now registering around 525 km/s after being around 350 km/s just 6 hours ago. Those should increase to over 600 km/s in the next 12 hours. Geomag activity is already responding, KP values have increased to just above 4. There are still several hours before it will reach G1 storming levels.

KPSlowlyClimbing_20171024

Solar wind speeds have increased from around 350 km/s to over 525 km/s
Solar wind speeds have increased from around 350 km/s to over 525 km/s
KP values climbing over 4
KP values climbing over 4

NLN Live Blog Update – Tue, Sept 24, 11:15 UTC (07:15 EST 10/24)
Live blog time: 11h 15m

Have you been watching the density after the last update? It has increase to around 40 p/cm3. It’s very likely solar wind speeds will increase in the near future.

NLN Live Blog Update – Tue, Sept 24, 04:00 UTC (00:00 EST 10/24)
Live blog time: 04h 00m

No sign of the expected solar wind yet. The first signs it is on it’s way will be that the proton density rises as earth enters the co-rotating interaction region (CIR). That sounds uber-technical, but all it means is that there are two streams of solar wind moving towards earth at different speeds. At the place they meet, there is a region where they interact. It means we know there is a period of fast solar wind coming when the proton density measured at DSCOVR increases. For now, Density is at nearly background levels around 5 p/cm3

Proton density is still at nearly background levels.
Proton density is still at nearly background levels.

NLN Live Blog Update – Tue, Sept 24, 00:00 UTC (20:00 EST 10/23)
Live blog time: 00h 00m

The NLN live blog is activated. We’ll bring news and updates about the predicted solar storm over the next 3-4 days. Here is the current three day auroraCast clock showing G1 predictions on Oct 24 and 26 sandwiching G2 forecasts for OCt 25.

NLN AuroraCast shows three days of G1 and G2 activity from October 24-26
NLN AuroraCast shows three days of G1 and G2 activity from October 24-26

G3 Aurora Recorded Sept 27/28 – More G1 Ahead

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Northern Lights Now – The late September geomagnetic activity resulting from a large coronal hole has exceeded initial expectations reaching G3 storm levels and helping aurora hunters world-wide capture staggering views. Solar wind speeds have been between 650 and 750 km/s for just over 24 hours now. Periods of high density and negative Bz, and quickly fluctuating Bz during that time pushed KP values above 6.67 for several hours.

Recorded KP values from SWPC in Boulder indicate 7 synoptic periods for G1+, 2 with G3 stroming
Recorded KP values from SWPC in Boulder indicate 7 synoptic periods for G1+, 2 with G3 stroming

The timing worked well for aurora hunters from Northern Europe across Northern North America. Clouds disrupted viewing in the UK and New England, but many locations saw vivid displays of Green, Red and Purple overnight.

Wendy T shared this great set of 4 images

Casey Grimley captured some pinks and the coveted fishbone aurora in Ogden Valley

And Jeff Wallace shared some spectacular full sky Gree swirling aurora

Looking ahead – it seems likely that at least G1 storming will continue through at least the next 12 hours or so. SWPC has extended their G1 storm watch an additional 24 hours through Sept 29.

Looking ahead - G1 watch is extended through Sept 29
Looking ahead – G1 watch is extended through Sept 29

We love that you share your photos with us on Twitter and on Facebook. Thank you for helping with out mission to help as many people see the aurora borealis as possible.

Happy Hunting

2017-18 Aurora season starts with a G1 storm watch for Aug 31 and Sept 1st

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Northern Lights Now – The fall aurora season kicks off around the end of August when the nights in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Denmark) start to get long enough and dark enough to see the northern lights. This year, the season should start off with a bang as a G1 storm is predicted that should bring a nice show.

Northern Lights Now Twitter follower Mia Stålnacke captured these pictures in Sweden earlier this week as aurora season gets under way.

Earth will come under the influence of a coronal hole, a corotating interaction region (CIR) and a solar storm over the next several days. There is a chance conditions may reach G2 on September 1st as the edge of a solar storm delivers a glancing blow.

On August 31st the high speed winds generated by the coronal hole shown below will start to push on Earth’s magnetosphere. The CH, which is the dark area on the image below, covers much of the northern hemisphere and crosses into the southern hemisphere. That means it is highly likely the winds will pick up at Earth about 3 days after the region was pointed towards Earth on the center of the disk. At about the same time, the CIR will also arrive. Current models indicate the solar wind speeds could reach between 550 and 600 km/s.

Coronal Hole Pointed Towards Earth on August 29
Coronal Hole Pointed Towards Earth on August 29

Later, on Sept 1 a small solar storm that was released during an eruption near active region 2672. Watch that eruption in this video. The eruption happened on the very western edge of the Earth stike zone and is not large. Most of the plasma emitted will miss earth to the west, but in the WSA-Enlil model below, see that the flank of the cloud may brush by Earth. Earth’s magnetosphere is likely to be activated as a result of 36 hours of high speed wind. That activation should accentuate any impact from the solar storm.

WSA Enlil model shows the solar storm and the coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS)
WSA Enlil model shows the solar storm and the coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS)

With this space weather setup, there is a good chance that at least one of the features will produce G1 storming (KP=5 or higher) in the next three days. If the solar storm is oriented just right, and is moving slightly faster than modeled and arrives in closer proximity to the high speed solar wind, KP values may reach G2 storm levels. Below is the official forecast from SWPC as displayed by the NLN auroraCast clock. Orange shows periods when G1 storming is expected:

SWPC is predicting days two and three with KP=4 possible in every three hour period
SWPC is predicting days two and three with KP=4 possible in every three hour period

Aurora hunters should be watching the data over the next three days and have their cameras ready.

Happy Hunting