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.

Space Weather Update


Its been a while since space weather graced this blog, far too long if you ask me. With that in mind, ponder a Sunday night space weather update.

As I write solar wind blows at 354.8 km/second, 1,967 potentially hazardous asteroids are identified within 100 LD (lunar distance) from our planet and 2 observable fireballs have been recorded in the past 24 hours. Despite a lull in solar activity courtesy cyclical expectations of solar minimum, a behemoth Earth facing hole in the Sun’s surface catapults solar wind in our direction. Contact with Earth’s magnetic field is anticipated on February 19 or 20th. Aurora watchers can expect geomagnetic storms.

On Monday February 18, Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky will be eclipsed by asteroid 4388 Jurgenstock (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4388_Jürgenstock)

In sharp contrast to February 2018 which came and went without a full moon, February 19, 2018 delivers a supermoon designated the closest full moon of the year.

https://www.space.com/34515-supermoon-guide.html

Few people know what space weather is, let alone grasp how it impacts life on Earth. If you were a passenger on NetJets flight 795 from White Plains to Burbank last week, you received a radiation dose of x 68.4 that of radiation exposure at sea level. Space weather is real and it matters. Happy Sunday.

http://spaceweather.com/

Solar Sector Boundary Crossing Coincides With Historic 150th Anniversary


September 2nd marks a historic 150th anniversary. On this day in 1859 miners in Virginia woke at 3 am thinking glowing skies signaled sunrise. From the North Pole to Cuba, Hawaii, most of Mexico, parts of Central America and Colombia, China and Japan, brilliant auroras delivered a electromagnetic circus. All across Europe and North America telegraph wires sparked, stations caught fire, some operators reported sending and receiving messages even after disconnecting power lines.

150 years ago British astronomer Richard Carrington witnessed a unprecedented solar flare – today we know it as the Carrington Event. A similar event today would devastate life as we know it. Ponder weeks, months, possibly years without electricity, internet, ATMs, GPS, power to pump water and fuel, air, road or rail travel. Space weather is real and it matters.

Image result for carrington event

https://www.history.com/news/a-perfect-solar-superstorm-the-1859-carrington-event

On September 3rd space weather predicts a solar sector boundary crossing.

Our sun produces wind (currently 316.9 Km/second) blasts across the cosmos. Just like Earth, the Sun has a magnetic field – known as the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF).  Whipped into spiral rotation, wind driven IMF rotates in one direction. It divides into spiral sections pointing to and away from the sun along the ecliptic plane ( a direct line between Earth and the Sun). The edge of this swirling mass has a surface separating polarities of planetary and solar magnetism called the heliosphere current sheet.

http://spaceweather.com/glossary/imf.html

Earth’s magnetic field points north at the magnetopause (the point of contact between our magnetosphere and the IMF). If the IMF happens to point south at contact (scientific term, southward Bz) the two fields link causing partial cancellation of Earth’s magnetic field – in other words, opening a temporary door for solar energy to enter our atmosphere. Welcome solar sector boundary crossing – a phenomenon born of high solar wind and coronal mass ejections (CME’s – aka solar flares).

It takes 3 or 4 days for magnetism to sort itself out – during that time expect occasional high frequency radio wave disruption,  wonky GPS and cell phone service peppered with sudden power grid failure events. On the upside, we’re treated to kick ass auroras.

Space weather really does matter.

Send Your Name To The Sun


Ponder your name on a microchip aboard a car sized solar probe traveling 692,000 Km/hour around the Sun. Imagine that probe entering the Suns’ atmosphere. How cool would it be if the first mission to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona carried your name. Would you see the Sun with fresh eyes knowing your name was part of an endeavor to explore solar wind?

The Parker Solar Probe begins a seven year, seven gravity assist Venus flyby, 93 million mile journey to the Sun in summer 2018. To commemorate humanity’s first visit to a star, NASA issued an open invitation – send your name to the Sun. Deadline, April 27, 2018. Get on board at  –

http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu/The-Mission/Name-to-Sun/

Learn more at – https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/parker-solar-probe-humanity-s-first-visit-to-a-star

Ponder Solar Timelapse


SDO, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory left for work on February 11, 2010. Seven years later and counting, SDO faithfully watches the Sun in different wavelengths. Different wavelengths reveal temperature variances in vivid colour, mesmerizing real time images unlocking mysteries of our sun.

Follow this link to live SDO solar images – https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/the-sun-now/index.html Better still – lose yourself in this stunning timelapse woven from five unblinking years of SDO surveillance.