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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Northern Lights Now – Thank you for visiting the Aurora live blog for the 2021 Halloween Aurora. Check back frequently as there are new updates for the current storm.
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NLN Live Blog Update – Saturday, October 31, 02:30 UTC (00:30 EST 10/31)
Live blog time: 6 Hours 15 mins
Happy Halloween to our EST hunters! The expected solar storm has not arrived yet. Solar wind data looks completely nominal. In fact, if you looked at only the solar wind data with 400 km/s and pretty flat data for Proton density, Bt and Bz over the last hour, you’d have no idea there was the potential for a storm.
But don’t give up yet. A quick peak at the EPAM at ACE shows that readings are still increasing. This often happens in advance of the arrival of a ICME shock. Note that they have been slowly rising since the X-class flare on the 29th. This isn’t over yet!
NLN Live Blog Update – Saturday, October 31, 01:00 UTC (22:00 EST 10/30)
Live blog time: 3 Hours 45 mins
Still no impact from the X-class CME. One argument in favor of it not arriving yet is the solar wind speed. After the 2 earlier impacts today, the solar wind speed only increased to the 350-400 km/s range. This wind speed would be consistent with a 4-day* transit from the Sun to Earth (as per the table below). The CME from the x-flare should be faster moving and should have wind speeds in the 650-700 km/s range. The later the ICME shock hits, the lower the wind speed should be. Based on the current wind speed it is very unlikely that the arrival late yesterday was from the X-class flare.
*Hat tip to Erika Palmerio @erikapal for the 4-day transit call out on Twitter
NLN Live Blog Update – Saturday, October 31, 00:00 UTC (21:00 EST 10/30)
Live blog time: 2 Hours 45 mins
This is the point in any aurora storm where seasoned hunters start questioning the models. As of now, the arrival of the main CME is at least 6 hours past the forecast date. People who have been aurora chasing for a long time know that sometimes the storms just miss and the models are wrong. Other times the storms arrive 12-16 hours later than the forecast. It’s part of the joy of the hunt and what makes it so exciting and satisfying to see the Northern Lights when they start.
In this case the doubters have some extra evidence. First, the majority of the CME was south of the Earth-Sun plane, so it was already possible that there would only be a glancing blow. Second, it’s possible that the first two impacts from 18:30 were the flank of the main part of the storm.
Even if it misses, this storm has already been decent. The initial flank has left a prolonged period (over three hours now) of south oriented Bz. This has charged the magnetosphere and there have been reports of aurora coming in from Scotland – like the tweet below from @Cogie_s
NLN Live Blog Update – Saturday, October 30, 21:15 UTC (17:15 EST 10/30)
Live blog time: 0 Hours 0 mins
The main part of the Expected CME has not arrived yet. There have been a pair of leading front arrivals over the last three hours. These have arrived with a one and a half hour (so far) period of moderate Bz south oriented storm. This will prime the magnetosphere and bring KP=4 and potentially KP=5 (G1) aurora over the next couple hours.
In the image below, Marks for “1” are the initial leading arrival. At marker “2” a second wave of arrival hit and was associated with a shift toward a deeper Bz negative. We’ll have to wait for the storm to complete before a full analysis can be performed, but it is possible these initial two shocks are from the CMEs associated with the M-class flares that happened around the time of the X class flare.
NLN Live Blog background, Saturday, October 30, 12:00 UTC (12:15 EST 10/30)
A large x-class flare released a CME towards Earth on October 28, 2021. The CME is expected to arrive at Earth Midday Oct 30 GMT. SWPC has issued a G3 storm watch. If the CME arrives with Bz south orientation, it’s likely to bring 24-36 hours of KP=6 and KP=7 storming.
As the storm arrives, keep an eye on the Solar Wind data page. When the ICME hits, expect the solar wind speed to jump, and density and total Bt to increase. When the shock front arrives, watch the Bz closely. If it drops deeply negative, there is a very strong likelihood that there will be an aurora display. If the storm starts with a north (positive) orientation, aurora hunters will need to wait for the second phase of the arrival and the maximum potential level decreases to G2.
Northern Lights Now – Space weather forecasters are predicting a period of G1 and G2 aurora conditions May 15th-17th. NLN is activating the live blog. We’ll aim to update several times a day, or as warranted, so check back often.
NLN Live Blog Update – Saturday, May 18, 04:30 UTC (18:00 EST 5/17)
Live blog time: 52hrs 30min
Calling it. It’s over. This is the last post in this storm’s live blog.
@HaloCME on twitter has offered a compelling explanation as to what happened to this week’s storm. In short, it came early. The G2-G3 storming we saw on Tuesday the 14th was the complex eruption from May 10-11. The follow-on storms arrived on 5/15 as we mentioned in the Thursday, May 16, 05:20 UTC live blog post. Later on the 15th and 16th instability as a result of the pushed the KP as high as KP=3.
The recent G3 storm on May 14 was not just because of CIR followed by HSS, but contributed also by a CME (likely from May 11). Note the periods of depressed proton temperature and smooth field rotation. Looks like another one (from May 13) may be hitting us. pic.twitter.com/c6VGoM4XBT
Thank you as always for following along this storm with NLN. We’ll still be in solar minimum for the next year and a half, but as the G3 storming earlier this week shows, there will still be activity. Please follow NLN on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
NLN Live Blog Update – Friday, May 17, 04:30 UTC (00:30 EST 5/17)
Live blog time: 52hrs 30min
Thanks for checking back in. Nothing to report. We are awaiting the third transient. With each hour that passes, it become less likely we will see it.
A quick reminder: take a look at the ways to support NLN. Most don’t cost anything.
NLN Live Blog Update – Friday, May 17, 00:30 UTC (2030 EST 5/16)
Live blog time: 48hrs 30min
Quick update: Nothing to see here.
It’s still been quiet, with a max recorded KP=3. The G2 storm watch is expired, we are now in a G1 storm watch. This is when aurora hunters start guessing the odds that the watch is a dud.
NLN Live Blog Update – Thursday, May 16, 20:30 UTC (16:30 EST 5/16)
Live blog time: 44hrs 30min
Looking at the Bz again there have been two periods of 58 minutes and 60 minutes in the last 6 hours. Individually, these are not enough to produce activity beyond KP=2. They do, however, prime the magnetosphere to react more quickly during the next phase of Bz.
There is no indication yet that the next CME is incoming. Watch and wait.
NLN Live Blog Update – Thursday, May 16, 18:00 UTC (14:00 EST 5/16)
Live blog time: 42hrs 00min
Looks like we had the next CME arrival. Take a look at the 24 and 6 hour solar wind charts. At about 16:40 on the 16th, Bz shifted deeply south, Bt and wind speed showed slight increases. Bz south lasted about an hour, then orientation switched back to the north. Once again, a small impact CME unlikely to cause much aurora.
Some Enlil model runs had the second and third CMEs merging together. While there is a slight chance this aurora event is over, we’ll keep our fingers crossed for the third CME arriving over the next 12 hours.
For hopeful hunters, there is another potential explanation: it’s possible the CME arrival just now was part of the first CME from the complex eruption on May 10 that the Enlil model had merged together. If this is the case, we could see another arrival of the official second CME soon – with the third still waiting for tomorrow.
NLN Live Blog Update – Thursday, May 16, 05:20 UTC (01:30 EST 5/16)
Live blog time: 29hrs 30min
Looking back at the 24 hour solar wind profile (below) it looks like the first CME hit around 18:00 UTC on 5/15. At that time the solar wind speed suddenly becomes more variable, Bt jumps then drops off, and Bz goes from fairly stable to slowly decreasing. This isn’t a classic ICME shock, but it is enough of a change in the background variables that we’ll call it a shift and the indicator of a passing transient.
Bz has been mostly south over the last hour, but it would need to be at -5 for over 45 minutes for there to be much aurora. With the passing of the first CME complete, aurora hunters will need to wait for the next CME expected to arrive later today.
NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, May 15, 23:20 UTC (19:20 EST 5/15)
Live blog time: 23hrs 20min
First indication the CME is arriving. Proton density has dropped. We’ll need to wait some more to know the real magnetic structure.
NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, May 15, 21:15 UTC (17:15 EST 5/15)
Live blog time: 21hrs 15min
Still waiting for first CME shock.
Let’s talk Moon:
Tonight we have a waxing gbbous Moon. For just about everyone, the Moon will be rising 4:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon and setting between 4am and 5am. It is nearly 80% full and the brightness will work against aurora hunters. There’s not much we can do about this aside from go out between moonset and sunrise or cross our fingers that the aurora is strong enough to see through the moonlight. Drier air will help as it reflects less moonlight.
Over the next three days, Moonset and Moonrise become 45 mins later each night, but the moon continues to get brighter until it is Full on Saturday.
NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, May 15, 18:30 UTC (14:30 EST 5/15)
Live blog time: 18 hrs 30min
The expected incoming storm is complex. Many times there is a single flare, or filament eruption that prompts a watch from SWPC. This time there are three separate solar events responsible for the activity. First, A complex combination of a flare and two filament eruptions (7 degrees and 13 degrees) from the interaction between AR2740 and AR 2741 launched CMEs late on May 10 and early on May 11. These CMEs merged and should arrive any moment.
Next Another filament, this time 10 degrees erupted from near center disk around 8pm UTC on 5/12. This CME should arrive in about 24 hours and will likely be the biggest impact we see. Timing is harder to estimate when multiple CMEs are between Earth and Sun so the timing on the second CME has a wider variance than normal (read: don’t worry if it’s late)
Third, another smaller filament happened eruption on May 13. This eruption was slightly more to the west of the second eruption and should give Earth a glancing blow. It is possible that this third CME will merge into the second on and we will only see the second – particularly if the second is slower than forecast and the third is faster.
You can see all of 3 CMEs on the Elil model output below (see: How to Read the Enlil Model ) as curved lenses of activity moving from the Sun towards Earth. The upper plot on the right shows three arrivals as peaks in density.
NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, May 15, 16:30 UTC (12:30 EST 5/15)
Live blog time: 16 hrs 30min
Still awaiting the arrival of the first shock. Bt is around 8, Proton density is between 13 and 15 parts per cubic centimeter, and wind speed is steady around 470km/s. Those are all slightly elevated levels. We’ll know the first shock arrives when those each make a sudden shift. For now: Watch and wait.
NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, May 15, 04:30 UTC (00:30 EST 5/15)
Live blog time: 4 hrs 30min
If you are wondering whether you are going to be able to see aurora where you live, here’s a handy map. G2 is KP=6. (click to enlarge)
When G2 storming is going on Aurora may be visible across Canada, Central and northern New England, the Great Lakes Region, the Upper Midwest, Alaska, Northern Russia, the Scandinavian Countries, Scotland, and Very Northern Ireland. In the Southern Hemisphere, KP=6 is enough to give the entire South Island of New Zealand a show as well as Tasmania and the South Pole. Of course, you can’t see aurora if the sky is bright, so most of the northernmost spots won’t have a chance due to the midnight sun.
NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, May 15, 04:15 UTC (00:15 EST 5/15)
Live blog time: 4 hrs 15min
NLN is expecting at least three separate storm arrivals over the next three days with a chance for a forth. Here are some more details on the expected timings of when there may be G1 and G2 storming. Please note: because this is a complicated forecast, this graphic should be taken with a grain of salt. We could easily see a prolonged period of G2 and some G3, or no G2 at all. We also expect storming to go beyond the end of the three day forecast window.
NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, May 15, 04:00 UTC (00:00 EST 5/15)
Live blog time: 4 hrs 0min
SWPC has updated the watches for the anticipated set of storms. There are now G1 watches posted on both 5/15 and 5/17 and a G2 storm watch posted for 5/16.
NLN Live Blog Update – Wednesday, May 15, 00:00 UTC (20:00 EST 5/14)
Live blog time: 0min
Live blog activated. We are expecting this to be a multi-storm several day complex event. Thanks for live blogging with NLN.