Big Auroral Show Coming Soon?
August 1, 2005 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Aurora (Northern/Southern Lights) are one of the most beautiful phenomena of nature. They are normally reserved for those who live nearer the polar latitudes. But occasionally, a massive solar X-Flare (animated) occurs when the "gun barrel" is pointed directly at earth. When that occurs, incredible aurora can be visible as far south as the the Arizona (N. Hemisphere) or as far north as New Zealand and Southern Australia (S. Hemisphere). (Another excellent gallery from May 1, 2005.) We have a good chance for such an event in coming days: Sunspot group 792 has a complicated magnetic field that harbors energy for powerful X-class solar flares. The chance of an Earth-directed explosion is increasing as the sun's rotation turns the active region more and more to face our planet. Stay tuned to and monitor auroral activity or the latest solar events. See also: How to Find a Photograph Aurora.
posted by spock (14 comments total)
posted by yupislyr at 7:54 AM on August 1, 2005

ADEC can send you email alerts whenever the Kp index is high enough that aurorae are likely to be visible where you are.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:57 AM on August 1, 2005

Thanks for the ADEC link.
posted by theora55 at 8:38 AM on August 1, 2005

This was super cool. Thanks.
posted by tkchrist at 9:26 AM on August 1, 2005

I could use an editor. (Why do I only see the mistakes on the 5th reading - after posting?)
: \

posted by spock at 10:06 AM on August 1, 2005

Yeah, I've been using ADEC since last fall... it seems to be fairly accurate. Aurora are so sweet, oh man. Thanks for the post!
posted by strikhedonia at 10:23 AM on August 1, 2005

this was a surprising coincidence to see on here, as last ngiht, i decided that i was going to try to show my girlfriend something she always wanted by flying us up to a lodge near fairbanks, alaska for a weekend at the end of september to see the northern lights.

i read somewhere though that if you stay in fairbanks for 3 nights, you'll have an 80% chance of seeing'em. i'm going to feel like an idiot if we don't see any during the 2 night-stay. :o(
posted by lotsofno at 10:25 AM on August 1, 2005

Thanks for all the nice gallery links. I was skeptical when I saw a wikipedia link for the lead-off, but this is a good post. DevilsAdvocate-thanks for the ADEC link, I'm going to sign up.
posted by OmieWise at 10:30 AM on August 1, 2005

Good post - here's some aurora borealis from Orkney including a few cows
posted by Lanark at 11:05 AM on August 1, 2005

If an event does happen this week, the moon will either not be a factor or set very early - which is great! (Moon-shine can wash out aurora). Check moonset times for your location here:
posted by spock at 11:36 AM on August 1, 2005

So great, spock -- I love auroras and very much hope to see one in person someday. I also appreciate the ADEC link, as well as Lanark's link to the wonderful cows of the apocalypse image. Thanks to all!
posted by melissa may at 3:27 PM on August 1, 2005

Some really nice time lapse videos of auroras at the South Pole ARO lab.

This one really lights up about 45 seconds into it. (WMV file)
posted by culberjo at 3:54 PM on August 1, 2005

Wow after looking at all these I just have to post a link to this one (WMV link again). complete with iridium flares from the satellite. The laser that pokes up from the lab is the lidar laser NASA has for measuring the stratosphere.
posted by culberjo at 4:13 PM on August 1, 2005

eeeek! it's the killshot!
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 5:14 PM on August 1, 2005

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