Springtime STEVE Sightings


STEVE ( Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement ) might look like an aurora, but it’s not. STEVE is an atmospheric phenomenon characteristic of northern hemisphere spring and fall. The result of uppity solar wind messing with Earth’s magnetic field. Meddling which allows ribbons of super heated gas travelling at speeds exceeding 13,000 mph to create observable arcs of soft purple hues. STEVE favours latitudes between +50N and +55N. Go STEVE! Hope to meet you one day.

Photo credit – Jocelyn Blanchette

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/3/eaaq0030.full

Aurora Cam Solution


Stay at home orders needn’t be defined by endless hours of television or Netflix. Consider using free time to embrace space weather, specifically Aurora Borealis. Start with https://spaceweather.com/ familiarize yourself with solar wind, sunspot numbers and current auroral oval. If favourable conditions suggest uppity auroras, find yourself a Aurora Cam.

See the source image

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/aurora-borealis-webcam-goes-live-1.866540

List of aurora cam links below –

Webcams

 

Inouye Sun


Highest resolution images ever taken of the Sun were released January 29, 2020 by astronomers at the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. Inouye, the world’s largest solar telescope sits near the summit of Mount Haleakala on Maui. Construction began in January 2013. The distinguishing feature, a 13 foot primary mirror arrived in August, 2017. This week we have Inouye to thank for expanding solar horizons. A statement from NSF (National Science Foundation) –

“The images show a pattern of turbulent ‘boiling’ plasma that covers the entire sun. The cell-like structures – each about the size of Texas – are the signature of violent motions that transport heat from the inside of the sun to its surface. That hot solar plasma rises in the bright centers of ‘cells,’ cools, then sinks below the surface in dark lanes in a process known as convection.”

Square of tightly-packed caramel corn-like granules.

https://www.nso.edu/press-release/inouye-solar-telescope-first-light/

I can’t watch this video without grinning from ear to ear –

Erupting solar plasma drives space weather’s engine. Solar storms impact airlines, GPS, telecommunications and the power grid. To understand solar dynamics, is to understand space weather. High resolution Inouye images are touted as the greatest leap in humanity’s ability to study the Sun since Galileo.  Said Thomas Rimmele, Director of Inouye Solar Telescope –

“It’s all about the magnetic field. To unravel the sun’s biggest mysteries, we have to not only be able to clearly see these tiny structures from 93 million miles [150 million km] away but very precisely measure their magnetic field strength and direction near the surface and trace the field as it extends out into the million-degree corona, the outer atmosphere of the sun.”

Newest solar telescope releases its 1st images

Northern Hemisphere Aurora Alert


As I write, streams of solar wind advance at 594.5 Km/second. Commanded by CH58+, a impressive coronal hole poised to deliver rare auroral punctuation as far south as Washington State, Idaho, Montana, Michigan and Minnesota.

Auroras happen when electrons energized by acceleration collide with Earth’s upper atmosphere. Acceleration allows energized electrons to follow Earth’s magnetic field downward to the poles. Anywhere from 80 – 500 Km above Earth’s surface, electrons collide with oxygen & nitrogen atoms, spiking the atoms’ energy. Soon after, atoms relax to their former energy state – relaxation creates light known as aurora borealis. Initially light forms an arc from horizon to horizon, within a few hours arcs twist and sway in upper atmosphere wind.

A geomagnetic storm warning issued by NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center, forecasts G1 (minor) activity August 31, increasing to G2 (moderate) September 1st as solar wind blows Earthward at 650 Km/second.

Its been years since space weather issued public alert of aurora over Greater Vancouver. Auroras are fickle, space weather makes no promises. That said, if you find yourself away from city lights with clear skies, don’t miss an opportunity for Aurora to wrap her arms around you. Once you meet Aurora, night skies become a source of wonder.

G1-G2 Watches 31 Aug-1 Sep, 2019

https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC0CLzCpM6nuLSAi1JNBjkA

Geomagnetic Storm Aurora Alert


Tonight into tomorrow, northern hemisphere sky watchers as far south as Iowa or Michigan to Washington State are on aurora alert. Auroras are caused by charged particles hitching a ride on solar wind, dark skies turn undulating curtains of mischievous colour when charged particles interact with molecules in our atmosphere. Usually, our magnetosphere acts as a planetary shield preventing geomagnetic interaction of charged particles. Every so often fast moving particles overwhelm our magnetic field, create an opening and light up night skies.

On May 12, a magnetic filament on the sun, seen here, became unstable and erupted. (NASA/SDO)

Since Monday, 3 additional solar eruptions sent fast moving charged particles our way. As a result the auroral oval (doughnut shaped ring around the pole where charged particles follow magnetic field lines, reason why far northern latitudes regularly witness geomagnetic storms), has shifted far to the south.

The northern lights as seen looking eastward from just east of Penzance, Sask., at 1:21 a.m. local time Tuesday morning. (Submitted by Notanee Bourassa)

The colour of that light depends on the kind of molecule and the altitude of the collision.

Green is the most common colour, produced when the particles collide with oxygen at an altitude of around 100 to 300 km. At about 300 to 400 km, the interaction with oxygen produces red. Pink occurs below 100 km when nitrogen atoms are struck.

This link – https://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/solar-flares/index.html is worth a ponder. One of the best I’ve found in terms of understanding what makes space weather tick.

Bottom line – Space Weather Prediction Centre forecasters say there’s a 75% chance of geomagnetic storm activity tonight. If your skies are clear, go outside. If she’s willing, Aurora will find you. Opportunities like this don’t come along every day.

 

Geomagnetic Bliss By Adrien Mauduit


From Adrien Mauduit at the Aurora observatory, Senja Island, Norway on March 17, 2019…

“It all started at around 10:00pm LT. Almost nothing until then when all of a sudden a big band appeared in the south. Around 10:30pm LT, a very nice show happened with some colorful and fast moving coronas.”

Adrien Mauduit is a visionary, an artist who captures the essence of Aurora in mesmerizing detail. Join me in appreciation of his vision by clicking on the link below and following Adrien Mauduit.

https://www.youtube.com/user/amadrien21

Magnetic Vibrations


To the delight of Aurora watchers Earth’s magnetic field vibrates in protest of unrelenting solar wind. An Earth facing hole of monstrous proportion opened on the Sun, belching winds of 600 Km/second (that’s almost 1.2 mph ) toward our planet. Defensive vibrating twists in Earth’s magnetic field ignited powerful geomagnetic storms.

Astronomers predict intense aurora activity to continue for several days.

http://spaceweather.com/

The current auroral oval commands the Northern Hemisphere. Anyone living under the oval owes it to themselves to look up under clear dark skies. Those lucky enough to meet  Aurora, embrace her stamp of indelible wonder. She’s waiting – all you have to do is find her.