Here we go again – another solar storm, more auroras through the weekend

A M-class solar flare, shown in this photo taken in ultraviolet light by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, is likely to cause a strong G3 storm late tomorrow night into Sunday. Credit: NASA

Am I doomed to write about nothing but flares and auroras? Yesterday night around 11 p.m. CST, a fresh flare exploded within sunspot group 1429. This one was an M-class, a level below the X-class flares of recent days, but still powerful and headed nearly straight for Earth.

Just when you thought things were going to calm down, they’re not. Our nonstop run of lights that began in earnest yesterday look to continue through the weekend. The coronal mass ejection lofted by the new flare is expected to hit around 1 a.m. Sunday morning March 11. Expect a strong G3 storm and another round of northern lights.

There’s more good news. By Sunday, the moon will be in waning gibbous phase and lower in the sky. That means darker skies and easier to see northern lights. How long can we keep this going? I hope long enough that everyone whose heart’s desire has been to see an aurora is satisfied. I’ll update routinely through the weekend on the progress of the storm. By the way, if you’d like quicker updates, you can find me on Twitter at AstroBob_bk

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

29 thoughts on “Here we go again – another solar storm, more auroras through the weekend

  1. I’m glad to see this! I actually just made reservations to be up in Lutsen tonight, hoping to better catch a round of the lights. I’ve been obsessively watching the K index, and just now it went down to a 4!!! Ahhh!!! I am glad to see reports of another big burst being hurled at us — except it will be tomorrow night instead of tonight!!! Ahhh some more!

    Bob, over the years I have checked this blog now and again, as there is always interesting information, and it is updated regularly… but lately, I have been truly inspired to look up a little more often, and learn more about what’s going on. Thank you for sharing your curiosity with us all!

    Good luck to everyone light hunting in the next few days!

  2. I’m not able to get to the North Shore tomorrow. What do you think the chances are tonight for a show worth a 2 hour drive? Great blog, Bob!

    • Thanks Dan. As for the drive, I don’t think it’s worth it tonight. The sky’s not expected to clear until the early morning hours and I see that the Kp index has dropped into the dreaded green zone.

  3. Hi Bob,

    Great stories and pictures of the northern lights! Since you’re sort of a universal (pun intended) astronomy guru with fans around the country, is there a way to tell when we’d ever get another storm like the one last October that produced auroras visible a lot further south than usual?

    • Irene,
      Looks like we’re mostly cloudy tonight and the activity from this latest storm is on the decline. If it shoots up, I will update. Late Saturday-early Sun. a.m. looks very promising.

  4. I am from south central minnesota. I just want to let you know that I saw the northern lights this morning about 5:15. they were low on the horizon but very visible. very cool!

  5. Bob, thank you for posting such great information in such a fun way! If it weren’t for you, I probably would not have seen any northern lights!! I am excited to catch them tomorrow night :) Thanks again!!!!!

  6. Dear Bob,

    I tried for the past two nights and can’t see anything (Dundee, Southeast of Scotland). I would really like to try again tonight. I have been going to a hill (500 feet above the sea). However, it’s bright when looking towards the north due to street lights. What do you suggest? Do you think it will be visible if I go to a darker countryside, however it is low?

    • Julianty,
      City lights are always a problem especially when you add in moonlight. Whenever I go to see northern lights, I drive north of town to a place where there are no nearby city lights to the north. The other night when we had auroras, it really helped that the sky was very clear, because the lights, though very active, were not particularly bright because of moonlight.
      You’re at a great latitude for auroras – given a clear sky, few lights and a good forecast, you should be able to view them. The space weather forecast hasn’t been updated today, but as of yesterday, a good storm is expected overnight. Let us know if you have success.

  7. So the lights will be good at 1am?? is that right?? if i head north like towards two harbors would that be a good place?? where towards two harbors would you go?? any good tips bob??

  8. I took your advice and headed out towards Lakewood Township on thursday night. I ended up getting some great pics, even though I’m very new to capturing Auroras. Thanks for all your excellent tips and advice. I’m looking forward to heading out again tonight hopefully.

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