Northern Lights Now – There have been several notable eruptions on the Sun since November 4th. As of now, models are not indicating G1 storming, but with the combination of events, and models predicting KP=4, it is not out of the question that there may be some G1 storming between 11/8 and 11/9.
Early on the 4th a filament erupted from the SW portion of the disk. There is a clear CME lift off, but it appears to be headed mostly to the South and West of the Earth-Sun line. Here is an animatedGIF showing about 4 hours in AIA 304 with showing the filament erupting
About 6 hours later, a small B2.2 flare happened around an unnumbered region in the NW quadrant. Just after this low level eruption, a wave is visible traveling southward through the corona. Dimming was also seen in automated CME detection during this flare. Often, dimming is indicative of a launching CME, but there was no clear sign of a CME on LASCO. If this flare did launch a CME towards Earth, it will be a stealth CME. This flare was optical only and did not register on NLN’s Solar Flare Browsing page. In this video, the first half shows the full disk, the second half zooms in on the actual flare.
Finally, a pair of filaments erupted early on the 5th. The first, bigger one launched from the NW quadrant of the Solar disk from a location just north of the area of the B2.2 flare. This filament also showed what looked to be a launching CME on AIA 304, however most of the material looks to be traveling North and West. The other filament erupted on the East of the disk at nearly the same time and is much smaller. They are both visible in this AIA 193 imagery, the second is just barely visible.
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
Northern Lights Now – A large coronal hole pointed towards earth means there may be many as 72 hours of G2 storming between September 28 and September 30. It is likely that during that time KP values will occasionally be above 5.67 and the aurora borealis will treat Aurora hunters to a show. Refresh this page often as we’ll be posting live updates as this storm impacts Earth.
Update #11: 72:00 hours in, 0000 UTC 9/31/2016 (8:00pm EST 9/30/2016)
The interplanetary shock from the previous update did not usher in a significantly different solar wind environment. This storm has been exhausting and frustrating for Aurora hunters around the world. It’s tempting to call the storm over – the G2 watch is now expired – however, a quick peak at the SDO AIA 211 image of the Sun from yesterday indicates there may be one more round of enhanced solar wind on it’s way. Notice that there is a final “leg” of the coronal hole pointed towards Earth in the 9:00am UTC image form 9/29 in the Earth strike zone. It’s possible this will bring enhanced solar wind speeds in the second half of today. Starting in about 12 hours and lasting for between 12 and 24 additional hours will be the final chances for this storm to put on a real show. It’s frustrating, but it’s storms like this that make the storms where there is a good show that much more awesome!
The storm hasn’t been a total bust. Check out this Timelapse from Adam Hill Studios in the North West Territory:
Update #10: 69:15 hours in, 2115 UTC 9/30/2016 (5:15pm EST 9/30/2016)
It’s been quiet. The solar wind has been blowing past Earth consistently and in a non-aurora producing orientation. Until about 20 minutes ago. DSCOVR data reflected an interplanetary shock arriving, it can be seen as a sudden shift in solar wind parameters. Bz shifted quickly north, wind speed decreased and proton density dropped. Sometime this indicates a shift in the space weather environment. In this case, after a period of about 10 minutes, the Bz shifted back to the south. If it stays this way, G1 storming could pick back up. In fact, wingKP models are responding to this change and predicting a return to G1 conditions in the next 45 minutes. Here’s a snapshot of the data during the shock arrival:
Update #9: 52:30 hours in, 0430 UTC 9/30/2016 (12:30am EST 9/30/2016)
There has now been 24 hours of continuous solar wind stronger than 650 km/s. Solar wind hit a peak earlier today of over 800 km/s, which is solidly in the “very strong” range. The charged particles that are carried in the solar wind exert a force on the Earth’s magnetosphere. The force is cumulative and it acts like slowly continuing to push harder on a spring. The more “compressed” the magnetosphere is, the more likely it is to react to any periods of high proton density, strong Bt, or negative Bz. This is why magnetometers are measuring KP values in the G1 range despite only brief periods of south oriented Bz that have been occurring today.
The short story is that Earth is primed to put on an amazing aurora display if the solar wind becomes even slightly favorable for aurora. When/if it happens, there will be between 30-60 minutes of warning.
Update #8: 47:00 hours in, 2300 UTC 9/29/2016 (07:00pm EST 9/29/2016)
Wrapping up the second full day of G2 storm watch, and the third day of active storming. Today there have been 4 periods of G1 storming recorded. There should be more G1-G2 storming over the next 24 hours with the possibility for some G3 if the Bz cooperates (which it hasn’t been doing much of so far this storm.
Update #7: 36:30 hours in, 1230 UTC 9/29/2016 (08:30am EST 9/29/2016)
Since the last update, there has been nearly consistent G1 storming. Pictures of aurora and proton acrs started rolling in on Twitter. Take a look at the 6 hours chart from NLN’s current KP page showing consistently KP5+
These two twitter post show proton arcs that happened overnight for this storm, one in Montana, the other was visible in the North Caithness coast
Update #6: 29:00 hours in, 0500 UTC 9/29/2016 (01:00am EST 9/29/2016)
Just a quick update. The negative Bz did infact lead to a small substorm. KP is back to G1 levels. Check out that same webcam now, it is showing much more green:
Update #6: 28:15 hours in, 0415 UTC 9/29/2016 (12:15am EST 9/29/2016)
On of the great things about the internet is that people hook up webcams and share them with the world. Check out www.sebeclake.net where you can watch aurora live when it’s cloudy where you are. Right now, it’s clear in Eastern Main and the webcam is showing some faint green on the horizon:
On that note, after it has been quiet for the last 3-4 hours, the Bz has been oriented negative for over 15 minutes now at a strength of more than -5Bz. This means there could be a small substorm coming in the next 30-60 minutes. Watch that KP!
Update #5: 26:00 hours in, 0200 UTC 9/29/2016 (10:00pm EST 9/28/2016)
About one third of the way through the predicted duration of the late September active period and so far the storm is mostly as expected. There have been 2 periods of G2 storming recorded so far and 7 periods of G1. Solar wind has continued to stay in the range of 600-725km/s.
Those strong KP readings are all the more impressive because Bz has been variable, rarely staying negative for more than about an hour. That indicates the long duration of strong solare wind as primed the magnetosphere for a big show if there is a period of negative Bz that lasts a couple hours. Here is the 24 hour view of solar wind data, note that Bz is continuously shifting between negative (south) and positive (south) orientation (click to see full size image):
We have not seen a lot of great pictures from this storm so far. Lots of the traditional Aurora hot spots are clouded in. Hopefully it clears out for some of you over the next 48 hours. Please share your pictures with as at @northLightAlert on Twitter!
Update #4: 20:45 hours in, 2045 UTC 9/28/2016 (5:45pm EST 9/28/2016)
G2 storming is ongoing now!
Update #3: 11:00 hours in, 1100 UTC 9/28/2016 (7:00am EST 9/28/2016)
Activity has decreased a bit over the last 9 hours. One additional period of G1 storming was recorded since the last update, current KP estimates are between 3 and 4 which is not enough for most of our readers to have a chance of seeing a show.
In the lull, let’s take a quick look at NLN’s dynamic inforgraphic of DSCOVR solar wind data. The chart below shows the strength and duration of the wind. Generally, more taller bars mean a better chance of a higher KP. The height of bars indicate how long the solar wind has been favorably exceeded the threshold along the bottom. For example, below: wind speed has been above 400km/s for over 48 hours, above 500km/s for over 18 hours, and above 600 km/s for an hour. One of the most important factors for aurora is Bz, the value on the right of the chart, when it is negative and has been for more than an hour or two, that is some of the best time to go out on the hunt. The chart updates automatically – no need to refresh that page!
Update #2: 3.5 hours in, 0330 UTC 9/28/2016 (11:30pm EST 9/27/2016)
The official G2 watch period has started. There has been G1 and G2 activity consistently over the previous 24 hours, even before the offical watch period begins. This has happened without Bz making a sustained southward shift. Solar wind exceeded 700km/s for about an hour just after midnight GMT. Any sustained period of south oriented Bz could make for a very strong aurora display.
In the 0030 SWPC aurora forecast discussion, there are a pair of notes that it is possible that storming could reach G3 levels over the next three days. This would mean KP values of 6.67 and above!
Update #2: t-2 hours, 2200 UTC (6:00pm EST) 9/27/2016
The storm is rolling! G2 storming levels we reached in the 6:00pm UTC hour. Solar wind speeds are now over 650km/s and there have been periods of south oriented Bz. Here’s the reported 3-hour KP values from SWPC:
Aurora reports are already streaming in! Check out these northern lights that happened just after sunset in Iceland:
Update #1: t-20 hours, 0400 UTC (midnight EST) 9/27/2016
SWPC increases duration of storm watch to 72 hours. Here are the updated timings of this G2 storming. It is important to note that these specific timings are less meaningful in a long duration event like this as it’s likely that the exact timing of KP spikes will depend on when substorms carried by the solar wind arrive at Earth.