All posts by Charles Baldridge

Charles Baldridge a data scientist with a passion for studying space weather and chasing the northern lights. He has been lucky enough to see aurora in person on multiple occasions in his hometown of Burlington Vermont.

Early November 2021 Complex Aurora Live Blog

Northern Lights Now – A complex set of flares and CMEs has set up a period of potential aurora activity on Nov 3rd through 5th. The official forecast is calling for a period of G1 storming late on the third for 6-9 hours, then another period late on the 4th potentially into the 5th. As such, the Aurora liveblog is being activated

NLN Live Blog Update – Thursday, November 4, 02:30 UTC (07:00 EST 11/4)
Live blog time: 19 Hours 00 mins

Wow!

Aurora hunters are being treated to a show with G3 aurora in high latitudes. Every time there is a solar storm expected, there is uncertainty in how it will be oriented when it arrives. This storm arrived with nearly perfect orientation for aurora sightings. As of now, there has been six hours of strong (-10nT) south oriented Bz, 15+ hours of solar wind speeds over 700 km/s, 1+ hours of solar wind speeds over 800 km/s, nearly 15 hours of Bt over 15 nT. With data like that, it isn’t surprising Earth has been experiencing G3 and possibly even G4 conditions.

Strong Bz south for almost the entire 3-hour lookback window
Strong Bz south for almost the entire 3-hour lookback window

The ovation model, which estimates where it’s likely to have active aurora, is showing a wide swath of red across almost all of Canada, Alaska, and Russia. In the southern hemisphere, Australia and New Zealand have been treated to a show. This storm is a worldwide event.

Lots of red on the ovation model - November 4, 2021
Lots of red on the ovation model – November 4, 2021

NLN Live Blog Update – Thursday, November 4, 02:30 UTC (22:30 EST 11/3)
Live blog time: 5 Hours 30 mins

Bz has been rolling in and out of south orientation, solar wind speeds have been holding above 750 km/s and the BT has remained strong. This has brought strong sub-storms during the Bz south periods. KP reached 7 (the highest it has been so far this solar cycle) and there have been aurora reports coming in from Maine, Vermont, Eastern Canada, Scotland and more.

KP reaches 7 during the early November storm on Nov 4, 2021
KP reaches 7 during the early November storm on Nov 4, 2021

At the moment, it appears Bz may be rotating back to the south. If this continues aurora hunters could see another round of aurora over the next 2-3 hours. There is also the possibility that we could see another shock arrival in the next 6 hours or so. If this happens we could have an abrupt end to the show, or it could intensify. Most likely, given the strength of the solar wind we are in the main portion of the storm and have less than 12 hours left of this storm.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, November 3, 22:10 UTC (18:10 EST 11/3)
Live blog time: 1 Hours 10 mins

The Aurora pictures have started!

NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, November 3, 21:20 UTC (17:20 EST 11/3)
Live blog time: 0 Hours 20 mins

After a momentary outage, Solar wind data is back online. With winds over 700 km/s and Bz strongly south, there is likely already G1 storming occuring

Momentary outage, but solar winds are still strong
Momentary outage, but solar winds are still strong

NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, November 3, 21:00 UTC (17:00 EST 11/3)
Live blog time: 0 Hours 0 mins

The first sign of the CMEs arrival hit DSCOVR at about 19:20 UTC, with a stronger impact around 20:00. Initial readings are showing a strong south Bz component and high solar wind speeds above 650 km/s. This is already an indication that this storm could yield better aurora production that the previous storm from Halloween weekend. This data means it is likely that we will reach G1 storming within about 90 minutes.

First signs of ICME impact around 19:20 UTC Nov 3, 2021
First signs of ICME impact around 19:20 UTC Nov 3, 2021

About an hour after the storm starting impacting, a glitch and set of errors has made DSCOVR blind to the solar wind. Aurora hunters will need to fall back on ACE as a source for data until DSCOVR comes back on line.

Trio of Flares Launch CME that May produce Aurora on Nov 4, 2021

Northern Lights Now – Another CME launched from the Sun and the updated forecast calls for more potential periods of G1 storming on Nov 4.

There have now been three significant flares with associated CMEs across the previous two days. The first two are from Active Region 2887 (the one that produced the X-class flare and storming over Halloween weekend) which is now rotating around the west limb. The third, launched on Nov 2, was from AR 2891 which is currently center disk. This likely means we’ll receive a direct hit.

The CMEs traveling out from these eruptions will likely interact and make for a somewhat complicated forecast. That said, SWPC has updated the Forecast and is now showing a period of Activity late on 11/3 and early on 11/4 then another period of G1 storming later in the Nov 4 period. It is very possible the forecast is conservative given the position of the third eruption. Here is the most recent forecast:

G1 storming now predicted on Nov 3 and Nov 4
G1 storming now predicted on Nov 3 and Nov 4

Here is an annotated two day composite of LASCO showing the three eruptions that are responsible for the activity predicted in this forecast.

Happy hunting!

Complex Storm System Forecast to bring G1 Aurora

Northern Lights Now – A complex set of flares from AR 2887 have launched CMEs that mean there is a good chance for Aurora on Nov 4 and Nov 5. SWPC has issued a G1 Geomagnetic Storm watch. These storms we’re complex, and we expect this forecast to be revised.

Here is the projected timeline for solar activity:

The initial predictions are showing G1 storming in the first half of Nov 4, 2021
The initial predictions are showing G1 storming in the first half of Nov 4, 2021

Edit: Later, another flare launched from AR2891 from near center disk. The CME launched from this eruption will almost definitely arrive at Earth, and will likely interact with the already launched CME. The forecast will be updated soon.

Happy Hunting