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Sept 6-10 Aurora G3 Storm 2017 – NLN Live Blog pt2

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Northern Lights Now – A G3 storm watch is in effect for September 6 and 7 thanks to a solar storm launched from an Earth-directed solar eruption at active region 2673. Aurora hunters are expecting a mid-latitude display. Northern Lights Now will keep you up to date on the latest information in this live blog. We’ll be updating regularly, so come back often.

This is part 2 of 3, check out the other links:
Live Blog Sept 6-10 Part 1
Live Blog Sept 6-10 Part 3

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 21:00 UTC (17:00 EST 9/7)
Live blog time: 45h 00m

BOOM! X9 flare CME interplanetary shock has arrived and it is bringing with it a deep negative Bz of -23nT. This is what we’ve been waiting for. Hope it is clear and dark where you are.

Solar Wind Bars show Strong Wind, Bt and neg Bz last 15 minutes.
Solar Wind Bars show Strong Wind, Bt and neg Bz last 15 minutes.
Interplanetary shock prompts major shifts in all wind parameters.
Interplanetary shock prompts major shifts in all wind parameters.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 21:00 UTC (17:00 EST 9/7)
Live blog time: 45h 00m

Such a roller coaster. Bz shifted back south and ground based magnetometers are responding. Aurora could be dancing now.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 20:00 UTC (16:00 EST 9/7)
Live blog time: 44h 00m

Bz switched back north. Any storming that started will end. Back to wait and see mode for the X9.33 flare CME arrival. This is why it is so rewarding when you do actually get to see an Aurora display.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 18:15 UTC (14:15 EST 9/7)
Live blog time: 42h 15m

Bz has stayed negative since the last update. Aurora reports should start coming in from across Northern Europe as sunset arrives. WingKP is currently underestimating – KP is likely already at G1 levels. It isn’t unusual for KP to under-estimate at the beginning of storms due to the fact it is a neural net and the input is only added once every three house. Ovation is a better guide at the moment.

Ovation shows there is likely G1 storming going on now.
Ovation shows there is likely G1 storming going on now.

Full disclosure – the data doesn’t 100% line up. We’d expect ground based magnetometers to be jumping around at this point. There is an outside possibility there is bad data coming from L1 leading us astray. Proof will be in the pudding when aurora images come in.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 15:30 UTC (11:30 EST 9/7)
Live blog time: 39h 30m

Bz just shifted sharply to the south. Time to watch the KP – should reach G1 shortly. It’s likely that Austrailia, NZ will see aurora before WingKP model reacts to this shift.

KP shifts decisively to the south.
KP shifts decisively to the south.

There was also another X class flare just now reaching X1.39

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 12:00 UTC (08:00 EST 9/7)
Live blog time: 36h 00m

36 hours into the storm watch period and KP=4 is the highest level of activity recorded so far. This is a good time to remind fellow aurora hunters that there is not yet a way to forecast the orientation of the magnetic fields in a solarstorm until it arrives. Forecasters can estimate the time of arrival and the magnitude of the storm at arrival, but if the orientation is not conducive to aurora, there won’t be a show. The first Phase of this storm was like that, it arrived within 9 hours of prediction and as strong solar wind and disturbed Bt, but Bz did not show any sustained negative orientation.

SWPC Boulder reported geomagnetic activity maxes at KP=4 so far.
SWPC Boulder reported geomagnetic activity maxes at KP=4 so far.

In the next 8-12 hours, watch for a surprise Bz negative period and for EPAM to start rising again in advance of the arrival of the CME from the X9.33 flare.

quick mea culpa: in the last update I posted the EPAM, it was late and the end of an active day of forecasting. It did not actually show EPAM still rising, I didn’t notice that the data had cut off from the chart about 4 hours from before the post until this morning. Sorry about that, and thanks to the eagle eyed readers who pointed it out!

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 04:30 UTC (00:30 EST 9/7)
Live blog time: 28h 20m

It’s NLN’s last live blog update for tonight, check back tomorrow. Leaving you with this image from EPAM. The fact that EPAM data are still up and to the right indicates that there is another CME arrival on it’s way. This aligns with the initial post 7:15am ET post yesterday morning – “Third, there may be a second shock and a new phase of Bz as a second, slower, CME arrives.”

EPAM is up and to the right indicating another incoming CME
EPAM is up and to the right indicating another incoming CME

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 04:30 UTC (00:30 EST 9/7)
Live blog time: 28h 20m

Quick update, possibly the last this evening. Bz has been mostly north over the last two hours, but it has dipped south again for the last 20 minutes. This may indicate we’re entering the next phase of the storm. If this keeps up, KP could start to climb. Hard to predict, just have to keep an eye on the data:

Ba has dipped south again over the last 20 minutes.
Ba has dipped south again over the last 20 minutes.

If you get nice photos that you are willing to share please post them to Twitter and tag the NLN account and/or post to Facebook and tag our FB page. Also – if you aren’t already, please follow and like those accounts!

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 02:00 UTC (22:00 EST 9/6)
Live blog time: 26h 00m

First round of negative Bz is happening. Wing KP responds by predicting KP=5 in 54 minutes. If Bz stays south another 10 or 15 mins, it will be go time for people in G1 range.

Bz now showing negative reading. KP should jump soon.
Bz now showing negative reading. KP should jump soon.

The first reports we’ve seen of Aurora came in from iceland with photos by long time follower and aurora hunter Muhammed Kizilkaya as the IP shock arrived at Earth about 2 and a half hours ago

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 7, 00:45 UTC (20:45 EST 9/6)
Live blog time: 24h 45m

The CME arrived about 90 minutes ago. There may have been a first round of aurora with the initial shock, but the Bz has been positive since the arrival. In order for there to be a big show of northern lights the Bz will have to shift to negative. All solar wind metrics are strong at the moment Bt=15.35 nT, Density=15.1 p/cm3, Solar wind around 600km/s.

CME arrives at DSCOVR with a Interplanetary Shock.
CME arrives at DSCOVR with a Interplanetary Shock.

Sept 6-10 Aurora G3 Storm 2017 – NLN Live Blog pt1

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Northern Lights Now – A G3 storm watch is in effect for September 6 and 7 thanks to a solar storm launched from an Earth-directed solar eruption at active region 2673. Aurora hunters are expecting a mid-latitude display. Northern Lights Now will keep you up to date on the latest information in this live blog. We’ll be updating regularly, so come back often.

This is part 1 of 3, check out the other links:

Live Blog Sept 6-10 Part 2
Live Blog Sept 6-10 Part 3

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 22:30 UTC (18:30 EST 9/6)
Live blog time: 22h 30m

With the addition of today’s X9.33 flare, the G3 Storm watch has been extended to 96 hours and continues through Sept 9. This should mean pretty almost all viewing areas should have at least some clear skies during the storm period. Also, by Sept 9 the moon is less bright and there’s a longer time between Sunset and Moonrise.

Notification timeline now shows a G3 geomagnetic storm watch extending 4 days.
Notification timeline now shows a G3 geomagnetic storm watch extending 4 days.

There are hints the shock is about to hit – temp decreasing, wind and density more variable. CME could arrive in next 30-180mins.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 19:15 UTC (15:30 EST 9/6)
Live blog time: 19h 30m

Busy day! The active region responsible for the predicted storm produced two X class flares (so far!) today. The bigger flare was measured at X9.33 making it the biggest solar flare of the current solar cycle. The last time there was an X-Class flare was May 5, 2015. Stay tuned for more info on the CME released during this eruption. So far, initial imagery indicates it is likely to the south and west of Earth, but it’s too early to rule out a glancing blow around Sept 8/9.

As it is now getting dark in Europe, the anticipated solar storm has not arrived yet. It is a little late, but it is still well within the bounds of the prediction confidence intervals. Hang tight.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 11:15 UTC (07:15 EST 9/6)
Live blog time: 11h 15m

As of this update, the CME has not arrived at Earth yet. Bz has been south for over an hour, which may prime the magnetosphere to ring when the shock arrives. We expect there will be at least three distinct phases to this solar storm.

Bz is south in advance of the CME shock arrival
Bz is south in advance of the CME shock arrival

First, when the initial shock hits, it will have high density (all the protons that it has swept up as it travels through space), and a big spike in wind speed. This will be measured at DSCOVR about 30-45 minutes before it arrives at Earth. Once it arrives, the aurora may dance, but the wing KP won’t reflect it yet.

Second, we will enter the first phase of the storm. It is impossible to know until it arrives if it will be oriented correctly for aurora. If Bz is negative, we should see a good show. Third, there may be a second shock and a new phase of Bz as a second, slower, CME arrives.

You can watch the Wind Speed in real time on our site (it auto-refreshes). This will be the best tool for predicting when the initial shock arrives at Earth. After that monitor the KP here.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 03:15 UTC (23:15 EST 9/5)
Live blog time: 03h 15m

Know your local viewing conditions. The best viewing conditions are when it is dark and clear. This storm will be tricky because the forecast calls for clouds or smoke in a lot of the typical hot-spots for viewing. It is also a nearly full moon. There will be a window between sunset and moonrise that it should be really dark. You should be able to get good photos even when the moon is out – do long exposures and photograph a part of the sky where the moon isn’t.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed, Sept 6, 00:00 UTC (20:00 EST 9/5)
Live blog time: 00h 00m

The G3 watch period has started. We aren’t expecting storming conditions to start for at least another 12 hours. In advance of the storm, watch the EPAM rise. We’ll know the initial shock of the storm hits when solar wind jumps and Bt, Bz and density make big shifts. In the meantime, here is the SWPC forecast for max KP expected in each three hour block over the next 24 hours. Expecting 7 blocks of G1 and above, 5 of G2 and above and 2 of G3.

Purple on the NLN auroraCast clock indicates expected G3 storming
Purple on the NLN auroraCast clock indicates expected G3 storming

G3 Aurora lights up the Sky Memorial Day weekend 2017

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Northern Lights Now – It may be approaching the quieter part of the Solar cycle, but the Sun isn’t done giving Aurora hunters eye candy yet. A solar storm launched on May 23 from the Sun arrived at Earth with a bang late Saturday. The setup of the storm was great for viewing aurora, the Moon was a waxing crescent, it was the weekend, many of the top viewing spots had clear skies, and the CME was oriented in a nearly perfect angle.

Check out NLN’s top 100 tweets page from this storm.

In Vermont, this turned out to be one of the best storms I have personally seen. The KP started rising quickly mid-to-late afternoon. Around Sunset the KP hit 6.33 – high enough that it should be possible to see the aurora dance. By 1:00am it was full on “Pants on” time. I drove to Malletts Bay.

As I arrived, the sky was dancing. Another photographer was just finishing up a half hour time-lapse. Even with some light pollution from Colchester, Montreal, and Plattsburgh, it was easy to see the sky glowing and pillars moving. Lake Champlain was calm so it was possible to see the aurora reflecting off the water.

Epic Aurora and reflections off Lake Champlain During G3 storming on Memorial Day Weekend 2017
Epic Aurora and reflections off Lake Champlain During G3 storming on Memorial Day Weekend 2017

With the Bz solidly below -15nT, the show would go on for 6+ hours. Like any northern lights, the intensity varied from minute to minute. At times it looked like the show might be over. At other times I felt like the luckiest guy on Earth.

One of those lucky moments was getting to watch a meteor streak and flash through the sky. My camera wasn’t pointed in the right direction (or in an exposure at the moment), but a fellow photographer and friend caught it! Here is Brian Drourr’s photo from the moment it streaked by

What an Epic night!
Happy Hunting