Tag Archives: swpc

Coronal Hole Prompts G1 Aurora Watch for Sat/Sun March 3rd and 4th

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Northern Lights Now – SWPC has posted a G1 geomagnetic storm watch for Sunday, March 6, 2016. This means global Kp could reach five prompting aurora to be visible at upper mid-latitudes. The expected activity is a result of the high speed solar wind from a coronal hole that was pointed toward Earth on March 2nd. As the high speed solar wind arrives, the charged particles it carries bombard and disturb the Earth’s magnetosphere leading to northern lights. Here’s an image of the coronal hole that as it was pointed towards Earth late on March 2nd:

Coronal hole is the dark area shown here in AIA 211 imagery from SDO
Coronal hole is the dark area shown here in AIA 211 imagery from SDO

As of Friday evening, SWPC is predicting the peak period of activity to arrive between 3:00AM and 6:00AM GMT on Sunday (10:00pm Saturday night to 1:00AM Sunday morning EST). NLN expects the wind speeds to start increasing around midnight GMT. The NLN AuroraCast shows the expected time periods of activity over the next three days:

AuroraCast clock depicts the expected timing of increased aurora activity - G1 is the orange area from 10pm to 1am EST
AuroraCast clock depicts the expected timing of increased aurora activity – G1 is the orange area from 10pm to 1am EST

Happy Hunting!

Coronal Hole Delivers G1 and G2 Aurora on 2/16 and 2/17

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Northern Lights Now – The expected high speed solar wind that prompted a G1 geomagnetic watch for February 17 arrived early, but delivered G1 and G2 storming conditions. The wind was faster moving than expected, clocking in around 670 km/s. The fast wind combined with periods of Bz south was enough to excite Earth’s geomagnetic fields. At the time of this blog post, there were 18 hours of continuous G1 and G2 – KP greater than 4.67 and 5.67 respectively – storming recorded, followed by another quick burst. Here is a graph showing the official readings from SWPC Boulder:

SWPC Boulder reports 7 periods, 21 hours, of G1 and G2 storming
SWPC Boulder reports 7 periods, 21 hours, of G1 and G2 storming

While this was a fairly strong aurora storm, there were not many aurora reports. Most of the prime viewing locations were clouded in. An large storm system across Iceland and the British Isles, general overcast across much of Scandinavia, and an East coast ice and snow storm prevented the viewers in the prime locations from experiencing this show. However, aurora hunters in some locations were able to capture the show:

New Zealand was treated to a brief period of lights just before sunrise as the storm started. Both Paul Le Comte and Ian Griffin got out of bed to snap pictures near Dunedin:

In Tasmania, @SussanSays saw the pinks and greens poke through what was forecast to be cloudy skies, and shared it in this Tweet

Eva Olsen captured greens with a hint of red/pink in Lapporten, Northern Sweeden:

Aurora hunter Darlene Tanner recorded the tail end of the storm from Alberta:

It’s possible storming could continue over the next 12-24 hours as disturbances travel along the fast wind stream, but decreases in density and wind speed indicate it’s likely this storm is now over.

Happy Hunting!

G1 Aurora Watch For Wednesday February 17, 2016 Posted

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Northern Lights Now – A second G1 geomagnetic storm watch for the week is posted for Wednesday offering the possibility of KP=5 or more. The increase in aurora borealis activity is expected as the high speed solar wind arrives from the northern extension of a southern pole coronal hole. Wind speed from the coronal hole approached 600km/s as it passed the STEREO-Ahead satellite, and it appears to have extended slightly northwards since the pass. It is possible wind speeds could reach 660 km/s at Earth by Wednesday. Here’s an image of the coronal hole when it was directed towards Earth:

High speed winds from coronal hole may impact Earth on 2/17
High speed winds from coronal hole may impact Earth on 2/17

The current forecast from SWPC calls for a 6 hour period of potential KP=5+ starting around 3:00PM GMT. Here is NLN’s AuroraCast inforgraphic of the expected Max KP’s

AuroraCast shows the expected period of KP=5 from 3pm to 9pm GMT
AuroraCast shows the expected period of KP=5 from 3pm to 9pm GMT

As always – these watches have a +/- of about 6 hours, and about a 50% accuracy, so hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Happy Hunting