Stories tagged aurora borealis

The International Space Station recently recorded a video of aurora borealis from its orbit high above the earth. Watch the video here, and read about it here.

A major eruption on the Sun on June 7 sent high-energy particles spewing into space. They are expected to reach Earth on the night of Wednesday June 8 (Minnesota time). Astronomers are predicting a major aurora event, with the Northern Lights visible overhead as far south as Milwaukee, and possibly visible on the northern horizon as far south a southern Indiana and Washington DC! For Buzzers in the northern US / southern Canada, if the sky is clear tonight, go out, find a dark place away from city lights, face north and look up. No telescopes or other fancy equipment needed. You can even try to photograph them (use a long exposure, no flash, and set the camera on something steady.) If you get any photos, post them here in the comments.

For more info, and up-to-the-minute predictions, visit the Aurora Forecast page.

Aurora alert

by Gene on Dec. 15th, 2010

According to the Aurora Alert mailing list, a solar event on Dec 14th may produce auroral displays (northern lights) starting around midnight tonight, Wednesday 12/15, and continuing Thursday 12/16 and possibly Friday 12/17. Your best bet for seeing the lights -- if they occur -- is to get away from the city, find a dark place with a clear view to the north, and look low on the horizon. Clouds will block your view, so if it's overcast, don't bother.

Great Ball of Fire
Great Ball of FireCourtesy NASA/SDO/AIA
Today's image of the day from NASA is super sweet, I wanted to share it.

From the Image of the Day site:

On August 1, 2010, almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. This image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory of the news-making solar event on August 1 shows the C3-class solar flare (white area on upper left), a solar tsunami (wave-like structure, upper right), multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection and more.

This multi-wavelength extreme ultraviolet snapshot from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sun's northern hemisphere in mid-eruption. Different colors in the image represent different gas temperatures. Earth's magnetic field is still reverberating from the solar flare impact on August 3, 2010, which sparked aurorae as far south as Wisconsin and Iowa in the United States. Analysts believe a second solar flare is following behind the first flare and could re-energize the fading geomagnetic storm and spark a new round of Northern Lights.


The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are caused when particles streaming from the Sun strike the Earth's atmosphere. Solar activity is very difficult to predict -- you often get only one or two day's notice between the eruption of a solar storm and the aurora.

But Charles Deehr, Professor of Physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has noticed a couple of recent "coronal holes" on the Sun that have been more stable than usual. Assuming these stay active, they could lead to aurora activity on the following dates:

Jan 15-22
Jan 29-Feb 6
Feb 12-19
Feb 25-Mar 2
Mar 11-18
Mar 24-30.

Deehr categorizes these events as "moderately active," meaning they may not be visible from the United States (or only the very northernmost part, above the 45th parallel). But if you're planning a trip to Canada or Alska during these times, look to the sky around midnight and tell us what you see.

Northern lights?

by Liza on Dec. 12th, 2006

Aurora borealis: (Photo courtesy Sami Koykka)
Aurora borealis: (Photo courtesy Sami Koykka)

A friend passed along an E-mail from Parke W. Kunkle, President of the Minnesota Planetarium Society:

"Hi, all.
This email contains information about potential aurora for the next few days....

There's a big active region now on sun. Watch its progress.

Normally I'd watch it on [the NASA site], but that instrument is down for routine maintenance until Tuesday.

I think there is a good chance for northern lights the next couple of nights. Just go outside and look north.
If you are being a winter weenie and don't want to go out, check the auroral map.

To learn about space weather, try the Exploratorium site.

Or see ongoing information."