Valentine’s Day Aurora

Our Sun has given us a CME kiss for Valentines day this year.

Sun with Heart
Happy Valentines Day from the Sun

The SWPC has announced two geomagnetic storm watches for this weekend:

The first is a G1 storm watch on Valentines day, from midnight to midnight. This means Kp values are predicted to exceed 5. Converting the times to EST, this watch lasts from 7:00pm EST Thursday, Feb 13 through 7:00pm EST Friday night.

The second, immediately following the first watch, from midnight to midnight UTC on February 15th, is a G2 storm watch. This means Kp values are predicted to exceed 6. Converting the times to EST, this watch lasts from 7:00pm EST Friday, Feb 14 through 7:00pm EST Saturday, Feb 15 evening.

What this means: This weekend is a great time to be monitoring the Kp values on If the Kp value exceeds your local Kp threshold take a peak outside, you might see northern lights if it isn’t cloudy. Use this last minute guide for preparing to go Aurora hunting.

These watches are the result of two Earth-Directed CMEs that launched from the Sun on Feb 11th and 12th from solar region 1974 (Beta-Delta-Gamma). The CME on February 11th is actually a combination of a CMEs from an M1 flare and a CME from a 15 degree filament. The second CME was launched during an M3 flare.

This region has been very active over the last several days and has produced 9 M-class flares. It has continued to grow in area and is now 460 millionths. It has maintained it’s Beta-Delta-Gamma structure with three delta spots. We can’t rule out a larger flare in the near future, but the region is rotating out of geo-effective range.

Viewing conditions are not ideal for the next two nights. The Moon is very close to full. In much of the US and europe it will be cloudy. There will be some lucky areas in Canada, Iceland, Alaska, the northern-midwest US and Scotland and Denmark where the clouds clear out and aurora may be visible.

Happy Hunting!