Archive for the ‘Aurora’ Category
Beginners Guide To Aurora
Here is a very quick beginners guide to explaining aurora
Aurora = The Northern (or Southern) lights/ Aurora Borealis/ Australis
Usually seen near the poles of the Earth, but can be seen further South in the UK or USA.
So how and where does it come from?
“Coronal Mass Ejection” = A load of solar material hurled out of the Sun. A big one can contain billions of tons of “plasma”.
Plasma hits Earth’s “magnetosphere” causing “geomagnetic storms” = Aurora, also known as the Northern or Southern lights.
Geomagnetic storms are measured using a scale called the “Planetary Kp index” ranging from 1 to 9. 1 being low and 9 being a very heavy storm.
The higher the Kp index the higher the likelihood of Aurora and the further South it can be seen. 5 = Scotland 8+ Southern England.
Geomagnetic storms and aurora are very unpredictable and forecasts can be very vague, we don’t know the intensity or where the aurora can be seen from until it hits.
Here is a link to NOAA Space Weather Scales
On January 22nd 2012, skywatchers in the northern hemisphere were rewarded with amazing displays of aurora. The cause of these displays was a Kp level 5.67 geomagnetic storm originating from solar activity on the 19th of January, produced visible aurorae throughout the northern hemisphere and viewers as far south as northeast England had great auroral views.
Here is a selection of aurora images and videos taken during the event.
A highly active region on the Sun threatens to deliver powerful geomagnetic storms over the week ahead. Highly energetic solar eruptions are likely heading in our direction to give Earth’s magnetic field a significant glancing blow!
Over the past few days the new sunspot AR1302 has been incredibly active, hurling massive X-class solar flares into space and it will soon face Earth.
The massive sunspot, many times larger than the Earth (see images below) is expected to increase in size and energy, and is expected to release powerful solar flares, sparking strong geomagnetic storms. Read the rest of this entry »
A severe geomagnetic storm (Kp=7-8) that began yesterday when a CME hit Earth’s magnetic field is subsiding. At the peak of the disturbance, auroras were sighted around both poles and in more than five US states and Northern Europe.
Sky watchers at the highest latitudes should remain alert for auroras as Earth’s magnetic field continues to reverberate from the CME impact.
More solar activity is expected, so stay posted for more Aurora news.
AURORA UPDATE! New Auroral oval predictions for the UK and North America! We are definitely going to see Aurora tonight
A strong-to-severe geomagnetic storm is in progress following the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) at approximately 12:15 UT on Sept. 26th. The Goddard Space Weather Lab reports a “strong compression of Earth’s magnetosphere. Simulations indicate that solar wind plasma [has penetrated] close to geosynchronous orbit starting at 13:00UT.” Geosynchronous satellites could therefore be directly exposed to solar wind plasma and magnetic fields. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for aurors after nightfall. (Credit: Spaceweather.com)
The best time to try and spot Aurora (The Northern lights) is around midnight, but this could be soon er or later.
You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to see the show (if it happens from your location) just your eyes.
Find a dark spot away from street lights and other light sources and look North. You should see Aurora very close to the horizon or higher, depending on your location, current conditions and intensity of the geomagnetic storm.
On the evening of the 5th of August 2011 the Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights were seen as far South as Southern England!
At approximately 18:00 Universal Time (19:00 BST) the Earth’s magnetosphere was hit by a coronal mass ejection from the sun, triggering a powerful geomagnetic storm and Aurora.
This storm measured 8 on the K index (aurora richter scale) which ranges from 0 – 9 so this was a big storm.
It is quite common to see Aurora in Northern Scotland, but at approximately midnight, aurora was seen as far south as Berkshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire in Southern England.
I was incredibly lucky to briefly see the pale greenish hue of the aurora through clouds from my back garden in West Berkshire. It is incredibly rare to see aurora this far south and the last time I remember was in 2003.
Unfortunately a lot of people in England and Scotland were under thick cloud and missed this fantastic display, but thanks to fantastic astro photographers such as Raymond Gilchrist (@RayGil on twitter) we are able to see the aurora through his images.
I am unsure of what the rest of the world witnessed, but geomagnetic activity remains high as I write this article, so I hope the sky clears and we are given another fantastic display of this rare phenomenon soon.