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Auroras, anyone?
February 14, 2011 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Sunspot 1158 is acting up. It looks like one of the more active sunspots in the current cycle has erupted with a series of (relatively) rapid-fire solar flares, pointing directly at the Earth. It looks like this evening/tomorrow morning will be prime-time for looking north if you are as far south as, oh maybe Wisconsin or so. You can hear the flares, too.
posted by pjern (30 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now we just have to get 12 suns flaring all at once, and it will be awesome.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:36 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yay! Aurora!

*checks Seattle weather forecast for tomorrow*

Well, shit.
posted by loquacious at 5:37 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


/look at US map.
/compare latitude of MA with WI.
/frown.
posted by explosion at 5:40 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chalmers: Good Lord, what is happening in there?
Skinner: Aurora Borealis?
Chalmers: Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? A this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your kitchen?
Skinner: Yes.
Chalmers: May I see it?
Skinner: Oh, erm… No.
posted by dflemingecon at 5:50 PM on February 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's all just part of the Disaster Area show going on. Hotblack Desiato is so froody.
posted by not_on_display at 5:54 PM on February 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh, roar a roar for Nora,
Nora Alice in the night.
For she has seen Aurora
Borealis burning bright.

A furore for our Nora!
And applaud Aurora seen!
Where, throughout the summer, has
Our Borealis been?

-Walt Kelly, Pogo
posted by KingEdRa at 6:19 PM on February 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Eastern sky in Madison, CT was a brilliant, deep flaming pink this morning at about 6:30 AM. Could this have anything to do with 1158?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:24 PM on February 14, 2011


Hipster Amateur Astronomer: I was totally into 1158 before it got popular. Photo. Video.

Actually, I threw out my back carrying my big-ass telescope into the front yard on Saturday. So yeah fuck you, 1158.
posted by rlk at 6:28 PM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I realize that we are coming out of a long solar minimum so this seems exciting, but this was only an M class flare (albeit an earth-directed 6.6). Wake me (in Nebraska) when we have an earth-directed X-class.
:)
posted by spock at 6:46 PM on February 14, 2011


The Eastern sky in Madison, CT was a brilliant, deep flaming pink this morning at about 6:30 AM. Could this have anything to do with 1158?

That was probably an atmospheric phenomenon (particles in the atmosphere stirred up by the windstorm over the midwestern US last night that arrived in the northeast today, perhaps), rather than a magnetic field phenomenon. In order for CT to see northern lights, the Kp index needs to be greater than 7. It's only at 4 right now.
posted by iceberg273 at 6:47 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


As usual, nice in Norway.
posted by spock at 6:49 PM on February 14, 2011


49.88 degrees latitude and 15 miles visibility here. Yay. I might have to head to the park outside of town.
I lived for 6 months at 56.82 but I never got tired of watching the aurora. It's very hypnotic. I know the explanation for the aurora and not to get too far into orbit here but when I used to watch the aurora bright and active and taking up a large portion of the sky it seemed some moments that I really understood it.
posted by vapidave at 7:14 PM on February 14, 2011


Cool! I will go outside in a bit and report back.
posted by norm at 7:37 PM on February 14, 2011


Yes! I saw my first aurora from the roof of Van Allen Hall. And now... Oh, now I live in Florida.

Porn masturbation it is.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:46 PM on February 14, 2011


I have never actually seen an aurora with my own eyes, and notice that most videos are time-lapse. Anyone know of a high quality real-time video, so I can get an idea of what I'm missing?
posted by pjern at 7:50 PM on February 14, 2011


The ham bands have been crackling with DX of late because of this. Today the conditions were described as 'eruptive/strong radio blackouts' from WWV.

In short, if you're a ham radio operator, you might want to get on the air now, during, and especially AFTER this storm since there will be a LOT of DX in its wake.

73!
posted by jackspace at 8:00 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


No auroras visible here in northern Ontario, but I took a few good star pics. Thanks for the post.
posted by HLD at 8:22 PM on February 14, 2011


I have never actually seen an aurora with my own eyes

I can recall driving home from Toronto via the 401 with friends very late on a Saturday night twenty or so years ago. It was a period of unusually strong solar activity and suddenly someone exclaimed "Oh, shit, look up there!". In the night sky, even visible through the glare of headlights on the windshield, was a ghostly shimmering curtain of light, extremely rare for this latitude. I was mesmerized, trying not to look away from the road too much, when I spotted emergency vehicles up ahead. As we slowed to pass the scene, there was a tow truck floodlight shining off the edge of the highway, and in it's beam was the rear end of a car jutting up out of a swamp, it's wheels and bumper draped with dangling shreds of vegetation and the passenger compartment completely submerged in the muck. I felt a sudden chill at the thought that perhaps they had been doing the same as us, ogling the spectacular show in the heavens when the road suddenly curved, they didn't, and evolution unapologetically took the human race one small step closer to perfection.
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:33 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, please!

Just got back from a brief foray into the countryside, out of the city light: there were none available at 40°06′35″N. Alas. A coworker said she spotted an aurora a few nights ago (nothing else glows green around these parts, anyway.). Thanks for the...well...heads up!
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 8:51 PM on February 14, 2011


http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/auroraforecast/
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 9:24 PM on February 14, 2011


At 2 UTC (9 PM EST) we got an earth-directed X-Flare. Tomorrow night could be special.

"X-class flares are big and are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. X-class flares are big and are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. According to NASA, this is the biggest solar flare so far from this solar cycle. "
posted by spock at 9:54 PM on February 14, 2011


Click on the image to launch a 2-day movie:

Listening to the two and a half minute audio of the radio waves was pretty cool, but I haven't the time for the movie.
posted by makabampow at 11:22 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


FYI I can't seem to view the aurora in Australia. Is there a way around the geoblocking? Do I need to install Tor?
posted by Ritchie at 11:46 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


SE wisconsin, just took a stroll and I can see the light show. The moon is really bright tonight though, so it's drowning much of it out. It looks like rays eminatingform north/north east, though that could be because the moon is more west.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:47 PM on February 14, 2011


You can hear the flares, too.

Not to mention the bellbottoms.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:05 AM on February 15, 2011


I just hope a Wirrn doesn't eat me while I'm hiding from the flares.
posted by sonascope at 4:34 AM on February 15, 2011


Despite living north of 55° for thirty years, I've still never seen an aurora.
posted by scruss at 4:36 AM on February 15, 2011


I'm around 55 degrees and rural, so I see them now and then.
It's been cloudy for most of the good sky-events this year, but the lunar eclipse was pretty cool!
Looks like the forecast for tonight says overcast too. Much sadness.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:07 AM on February 15, 2011


I have never actually seen an aurora with my own eyes

I have seen aurora once. Amazingly, this was in Indiana (of all places) driving between Indianapolis and Muncie on I-69. The northern sky had this eerie, red glow and...movement...to it. At first we thought there was a town on-fire or something just over the horizon. But the effect was so strange that we actually pulled over to watch. It was then that we realized we were witnessing aurora!
posted by Thorzdad at 9:43 AM on February 15, 2011


Auroras are pretty rare in Calgary (51 deg N). Sometimes I'll go years between seeing one. Checking through my photos, the last really bright one I saw was July 22, 2009 at around 2 AM.

Anyway, I went back to the same spot last night and didn't see anything. It was partly cloudy, but I didn't see a hint of colour anywhere.

Incidentally, according to that site above, the Kp index needs to be around 4.5 for anything to be visible in Calgary, and last night it dropped to < 4.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:38 PM on February 15, 2011


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