Thank You Note To The Big Bang

(Heads-up: NOAA space weather forecast calls for active to major storm levels tonight through tomorrow. Auroras are possible. As of 11:30 p.m. CDT, no aurora in Duluth,Minn.)

Neil deGrasse Tyson. Credit: AP

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, writer and director of Hayden Planetarium in New York City, is a familiar face on late night talk shows the past several years. A master of his craft, he combines humor and enthusiasm to communicate the wonders of the universe to the general public. If you’re looking for a good book on black holes, I can recommend his “Death by Black Hole and other Cosmic Quandries”.

In a 2008 interview by TIME magazine, Neil was asked what he thought the most astounding fact about the Universe was. You can hear his response in the short video above, set to images and music by Max Schlickenmeyer. I think you’ll find the deep connection he makes very satisfying.

You can use this map to get a general idea the Kp index number and where you might see an aurora. Credit: NOAA
The two red bars on the Kp index show the storm's arrival today. Credit: NOAA

Looks like we finally got hit this morning by an incoming coronal mass ejection from one of several flares of the past couple days. It happened around 4:30 a.m. CDT; by 7 a.m. the Kp shot up to “6”. As you can see from the current plot (left), the storm’s still going strong. Wish I was in Siberia to see it.

One of our readers from Helena, Montana saw a few auroral rays while on his morning run today. Let’s hope the activity continues into the night. If there’s a possibility for northern lights, I’ll update with news later today.

6 Responses

  1. Anna

    Well so far I have been watching the Kp index and as of right now it is a 7. And oh Of course its daylight right now. But I have hoping it says and doesn’t drop back down to a 3 as it has done before

  2. Timothy Fleming

    Hi Bob,
    Just want to thank you for your blog and let you know you are a must read everyday at lunch time. Thanks for your energy and insights on the astronomical world.

    For spring break next week, I am taking my daughter to Kitt Observatory for a night skywatch program they offer. She has never seen the Milky Way and I thought this was a great opportunity – for both of us.

    I can’t tell you how much pleasure I get looking at the night sky and seeing all the familiar stars, constellations, and planets. It is strange to see the winter night sky in such change – I need to get re-oriented.

    Thanks again,

    1. astrobob

      Hi Timothy,
      Thanks for the nice compliment. Kitt Peak is a very exciting place. I visited once back in the 1980s and really must return. Next week, with no moon in the sky, will be an ideal time to see the Milky Way. I bet she’ll love it from high atop the mountain.

  3. Quresh

    Hey, is there any chance to watch the aurora tonight . I’m in minneapolis and willing to travel if it is around, please advise . (I want to avoid a disappointment like a few days back where we drove too much in vain)..thanks for all your help

    1. astrobob

      There is a chance – some activity up to a storm is expected, but may not show except at high latitudes. What I do is check the Kp index (link on today’s blog, just click the photo). If it’s low but the forecast indicates a decent chance for a good show, I set my alarm to wake up around 4 a.m. I check the index and look out the window. I did this Sunday morning and saved myself a lot of running around, because the storm never materialized.

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