The morning of disappointing, disappearing aurora
Jenn and I managed to do a bit of aurora watching in mild(er) temperatures early in the morning on February 1st. I had been keeping my eye on the real-time aurora cameras, and the northern lights seemed to be turning off and on like a three-year-old playing with a light switch*. It would only dance for a few minutes before fading and retreating to the north. We managed to catch one of it’s brief appearances around 12:30 am, but it only lasted 5 minutes before it was barely discernable in the moonlit sky.
We were awaiting the arrival of a fast solar wind from a coronal hole that was due to arrive anytime over the next day or so. Winds like that tend to give the magnetosphere a good kick, creating nice little geomagnetic storms that often mean good aurora viewing for us. The data wasn’t looking to favor us this evening, so we turned in early with hopes for better shows the next evening.
That worked out well for us . . .
9:30 pm the next evening a strong band was out, right overhead.
There was a little bit of light cloudcover in the southern sky, but it certainly wasn’t blocking the view.
Dancing in the moonlight
Some low-altitude crimson started to shimmer at the bottom of the band as it slowly started to creep south. You could just tell that there was a lot of energy about to burst forth. And then it went . . .
Northern lights explode in the sky
Corona burst overhead
This crazy display only lasted for about a minute, but it was one of the most intense I’ve seen
“Northern lights spiral”
Aurora bands stretching out from over the trees
The main band broke up, but a few bright patches still hung – seemingly dangling in the sky
It really turned out to be a spectacular night. I’m glad Jenn got to see such a show while visiting; Kate and I lived here for a months before witnessing something like that.
*This often happens when the Bz component of the interstellar magnetic field flips from north to south – south is good for aurora