Tag Archives: long duration

Mid May 2019 Aurora Storm Live Blog

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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.

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.

Bz 6-hour graph shows 2 60 minute periods of south oriented Bz
Bz 6-hour graph shows 2 60 minute periods of south oriented 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.

Solar wind data from the last 24 hours shows the first CME transient arriving around 16:20 on 5/15
Solar wind data from the last 24 hours shows the first CME transient arriving around 16:20 on 5/15

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.

Proton density dropped around 22:48
Proton density dropped around 22:48

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's Moon is 80% waxing Gibbous
Tonight’s Moon is 80% waxing Gibbous

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)

Global KP boundaries map shows what KP you need to see Aurora
Global KP boundaries map shows what KP you need to see Aurora

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 Three day AuroraCast.
NLN Three day AuroraCast.

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.

Busy Notifications Timeline from SWPC
Busy Notifications Timeline from SWPC

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.

Aurora May 16 through May 20 Live Blog

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Northern Lights Now – There is an extended period of active aurora predicted for the third week of May 2016. NLN is going into live-blog mode to provide updates as the storm unfolds. Please check this page often.

Some helpful links to us to watch the storms unfold:

  • Live KP: use this to see the KP over the next 45 or so minutes to time your trip outside
  • AuroraCast: NLN’s visualization of the current SWPC 3-day forecast
  • DSCOVR Solar Wind: Raw data that feeds the live KP model – be super science and predict earlier than the models!

NLN Live Blog Update – Sat May 20, 11:30 UTC (03:30 EST)

Thanks for following along the live blog! There may be some residual activity as solar wind is still high, but the storm appears to be over. Here’s a nice timelapse from @isaac_diener of last night’s activity.

NLN Live Blog Update – Sat May 20, 03:15 UTC (23:15 EST)

As anticipated, the third part of this storm is producing the most activity. But it hasn’t been much so far with geomagnetic activity just exceeding the KP=4 level. Solar winds are looking good, so there is still a chance for G1 storming in the next 3-5 hours.

Did you notice the short term KP forecast is behind? Occasionally the source data, which comes from a neural network run by the space weather prediction center goes offline. When it does, predictions come back from the model as -1. Clearly, the level of activity is not negative!

Wing KP model output  is offline - returning an estimated KP of -1
Wing KP model output is offline – returning an estimated KP of -1

When this happens, the best bet is to use the ovation aurora model – which you can find on our page title “Short Term Prediction Down? Use This!

Ovation model at the time of this update shows some activity.
Ovation model at the time of this update shows some activity.

NLN Live Blog Update – Fri May 19, 13:30 UTC (09:30 EST)

Earth is now in the coronal hole high speed wind. Wind speeds are approaching 500km/s. Over the last 45 minutes, Bz has dipped south. If this keeps up, the KP should tick back up.

Bz is now south in part three of this week's activity
Bz is now south in part three of this week’s activity

NLN Live Blog Update – Fri May 19, 01:45 UTC (21:45 EST)

With the start of 5/19 UTC, the G2 storm watch is now in effect as part three of this complex set of storms is expected to arrive. Over the last hour proton density has been steadily increasing. This is an indication that the CIR is about to arrive. It will be followed by high speed winds from the coronal hole. It should be clear in the next 3-5 hours if there will be strong aurora from this storm, of if it is another bust like the first two parts of this week’s activity. Aurora hunters world wide remain optimistic!

Proton density readings steadily rise over the last hour
Proton density readings steadily rise over the last hour

NLN Live Blog Update – Thurs May 18, 12:30 UTC (08:30 EST)

Overnight there was a brief period of northern lights between midnight and 1 am EST while the Bz was oriented southward. Since then, KP has been between 3 and 4. This was long enough for some aurora hunters to capture the show. Here are a couple clips from the NLN Twitter feed. Thanks for sharing!

NLN Live Blog Update – Thurs May 18, 04:15 UTC (00:15 EST)

Finally! Wing Kp model is calling for KP=5.00 shortly. Bz has turned south and persisted for over 2 hours, it has been hovering around -5nT for the last 30 minutes. That is strong enough to make the models predict aurora!

First predicted G1 storm period of this active period - shown on NLN's current KP real-time chart
First predicted G1 storm period of this active period – shown on NLN’s current KP real-time chart

NLN Live Blog Update – Thurs May 18, 01:00 UTC (21:00 EST)

Another quiet day. The maximum measured KP was 2.67. It appears the expected CME went to the South of Earth and we won’t be seeing any impact from it. SWPC updated the watches. They have cancelled the G2 watch for the 17th and downgraded the watch on the 18th to a G1 watch. They did maintain the G2 watch for the 19th and extend a new G1 watch to the 20th.

The third part of the expected storm should start to impact Earth late on the 18th (UTC) as Earth crosses a solar sector boundary and a co-rotating interactive boundary in advance of the wind from the next coronal hole. Then activity should pick up on the 19th as Earth enters the high speed wind from the coronal hole. This is illustrated in the WSA-Enlil (How to read Enlil ) below. Earth is the green filled circle on each of the graphs. At the top, see that density is high as Earth is in the SSBC, on the lower portion, see that wind speeds are picking up as Earth enters the wind stream.

Annotated Frame from WSA_Enlil model shows coronal holes, high speed wind arriving and high density from SSBC
Annotated Frame from WSA_Enlil model shows coronal holes, high speed wind arriving and high density from SSBC

It’s worth checking out the fully animated WSA-Enlil output at SWPC

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed May 17, 11:00 UTC (07:00 EST)

Solar wind speeds have been slowly decreasing overnight as the influence from the first coronal hole wanes. Winds speeds have dropped to around 500km/s. Bz has been oriented southward (negative) for over 2 hours now. The combination what is responsible for pushing short-term Kp predictions to between 3 and 4. Even with the strength of the field low, extended periods of Bz like this can lead to aurora. We aren’t expecting any amazing jumps in Kp until other solar wind parameters become more favorable.

The next feature that may become evident in this storm is the arrival or glancing blow from the CME that launched late on May 13. The material from the CME is slow moving and mostly to the south of Earth. SWPC models are indicating some of the material may have been on the Earth-Sun plane. Here is a snapshot of the CME in lasco C2 and C3 imagery. It is faint, but the CME can be seen as a “cloud” emanating from the bottom right of the Sun at starting around the 21:00 timestamp in C2 (orange/red) and the 22:30 timestamp in C3 (blue)

CME launches late on 5/13 as shown in LASCO C2 imagery from SOHO
CME launches late on 5/13 as shown in LASCO C2 imagery from SOHO
The same CME, but imaged in C3 - zoomed out a little.
The same CME, but imaged in C3 – zoomed out a little.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed May 17, 03:45 UTC (11:45 EST)

As of midnight, a G2 storm watch is now in effect. SWPC extended the watch an additional 24 hours through May 19. The 19th currently looks like it will be the most active day this week. G1 and G2 storming is predicted for all but one 3-hour period during the that day. Here is the NLN AuroraCast showing the predicted KP for each 3-hour time period over the next three days.

3-day AuroraCast shows very active geomagnetic activity the next three days - particularly on May 19
3-day AuroraCast shows very active geomagnetic activity the next three days – particularly on May 19

For the first day of this event, measured KP peaked at 3.00. Storm levels did not reach the G1 threshold.

NLN Live Blog Update – Tue May 16, 21:00 UTC (17:00 EST)

Despite a G1 storm watch posted for today, it doesn’t appear KP levels will reach 4.67 today. Solar wind speed have increased as a result of the coronal hole high speed stream and have been above 500km/s for most of the day. Solar winds reached a peak speed of 678km/s early in the UTC day, but have since declined. It is not unusual that a predicted G1 storm does not live up to expectations, there is plenty of activity predicted for the next 2 days and probably more. Stay tuned.

Early March G2 Aurora Strom Puts on a Global Show

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Northern Lights Now – An extended period of high solar winds, the result of a large Earth-directed coronal hole, put on a three day long show for aurora hunters in high latitudes in early March. Photographers captured aurora glows, pillars, picket fences, dancing displays and illuminated night landscapes from around the world between mid March 1 through early March 4. Here’s a spectacular time lapse video from Adam Hill showing a wave of northern lights racing westward through the sky.

This extended storm was measured by the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) as 9 periods of G1 storming and one period of G2 storming over 66 hours. G1 storming means the KP reached 4.67 and aurora can be visible as far south as Toronto, the upper midwest in the United States, Seattle and Scotland and can be seen as far north as Invercargill and Tasmania in the Southern Hemisphere. G2 storming means aurora can be seen at even lower latitudes near cities such as Portland, Boise, Dublin, Hamburg, Moscow and Christchurch. This chart show the first 5 days of March with the G1 and G2 3-hour periods showing in Red.

5 days of geomagnetic activity as measured by NOAA and SWPC
5 days of geomagnetic activity as measured by NOAA and SWPC

This early march storm is the result of a coronal hole that was pointed towards earth at the end of February. The hole is shown as a dark area on AIA 193 in the image below. It exposes the high speed solar wind emanating from the solar surface. Here’s an image of the coronal hole from the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

Coronal hole in AIA 193 shown as a dark finger reaching up toward center disk from the pole
Coronal hole in AIA 193 shown as a dark finger reaching up toward center disk from the pole

Those high speed solar winds take 2-5 days to arrive at Earth, and when they do they push on the magnetosphere and can cause aurora. This means that when there is a coronal hole pointed towards Earth solar scientists can predict that there is a good chance for activity 1-3 days in advance. Watch for those predictions on the NLN 3-day aurora cast – potential G1 storming shows as orange on those charts.

Let’s enjoy the view! Here are a few of our favorite tweets from this storm:

Watch the cloud clear and the lights come out to play in this time lapse

Stan’s take shows the aurora in black and white – this really brings out the texture and shapes

This panorama is worth clicking on and viewing full screen!

Finally, one of our favorite types of aurora – the “Picket Fence”

If you would like to have a chance to see the northern lights in person, consider following the NLN twitter feed (@northlightalert) to learn more about why aurora happen and when they may be visible.