Around 9:20 p.m. CST Thursday evening, we finally got to see a few pulsing patches of aurora in the lower half of the northern sky. Moonlight was bright, but the aurora held its own. Storm activity jumped to “5″ on the Kp index at the time, but only a half hour later, the display faded back to a series of extensive but wispy rays across the north. They showed better in the camera than to the eye.
Activity slowed for a time but around 11:30 p.m. the Kp took a big leap into the red zone. That’s whem show really got going. From 11:30 p.m. through at least 1:30 Friday morning, the northern lights sizzled here in Duluth. The whole northern sky plus a fair chunk to the east were alive with rays at midnight. Even better, and what doesn’t show in the still photos, were the wonderful, repeating waves of auroral light that rippled across the northern sky like expanding waves of water when a pebble is dropped in a pond. Beautiful! Absolutely alive with movement. The display was much brighter and easier to see than at 10 p.m. but still somewhat washed out by moonlight.
Take a look at the OVATION forecast (above) that showed the extent of the auroral oval at 2:20 a.m. CST. If the green band was over your house, aurora was all over your sky. The red line indicates how far away viewers on the ground could see the aurora. Because the northern lights dance at least 60 miles high in the ionosphere (far above most clouds), aurora is visible as far away as 600 mph from the oval’s edge. The closer to the red line you’re located, the lower the aurora will appear in your northern sky.
Times shown are Universal or Greenwich time. To convert to EST, subtract 5 hours, CST 6 hours and so on. My thanks to Mooni for sharing the link.
I’m tempted to stay up all night, but even amateur astronomers need their sleep. I better get some; the space weather forecast calls for a good chance for auroras again tonight. Thank you all for sharing your observations!