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Beginners Guide To Aurora

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

To watch the aurora, you only need your eyes, just like watching meteors or the International Space Station. Look North and low down on the horizon, it may be faint at first.

Solar Flare

Stunning Aurora Images From Around the World

This photo was taken on January 22, 2012 in Fairbanks North Star Borough County, Alaska, US, using a Nikon D5000. The 'explodey' look is due to perspective from looking right up the magnetic field lines. The aurora in the middle of the explosion is pointing straight down at the camera. Credit: Jason Ahrns -- and 'regular' view of Jason's image of the aurora is below.

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.

See more here:

Massive Sunspot 1302

Sunset with the Massive Sun Spot 1302 (Upper left on the Sun) Credit: Adrian Scott

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. (more…)

SUBSIDING STORM

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.

Dundee Aurora Credit: Ben-e-boy

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.

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