Aurora Alert – Northern lights cookin’ over Duluth, Minn. tonight!

Beautiful feathery rays reach toward the zenith around 10 p.m. (CDT) tonight Oct. 8 seen from north of Duluth, Minn. Photo: Bob King

Between swiftly-moving blankets of cloud we’ve been treated to some superb aurora borealis this evening. I just got back in after taking a few pictures and enjoying the show to share the news. The Kp index, a reliable indicator of magnetic and associated aurora activity high in Earth’s atmosphere, is up to 6 or minor storm level.

A bank of auroral rays with strikingly pink tops stipples the entire northern sky around 10 p.m. tonight Oct. 8, 2012. Photo: Bob King

From Duluth, Minn. we’ve got rays stretching far up the northern sky and bright, shorter rayed arcs lower down. Nice mix of pale pinks and greens. Here are a few photos. Find a place with a good view to the north, grab your coat and go. Oh, be sure to let us know what you see. Thanks!

Satellite plot showing the extent of the northern lights (in red and orange). You can see they dip down across the northern U.S. as of 10:19 p.m. CDT. Credit: NOAA

PS. I didn’t see any Draconid meteors in the half hour I was out. Not giving up yet though. Time to head out for more solar rays!

UPDATE 11 p.m. — The display has evolved into big, amorphous patches of light that ¬†swell almost to bursting before suddenly fading away … and re-appearing a moment later. Curious to watch and very hard to photograph. I tried anyway and used short 5 second exposures for minimal motion blur.

Waves are also starting to ripple through the patches, a phase called flaming.

Big, soft patches of aurora mysteriously appear and disappear around 11 p.m. tonight. 5-second exposure. Photo: Bob King

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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.

5 thoughts on “Aurora Alert – Northern lights cookin’ over Duluth, Minn. tonight!

  1. Gak.
    First you send me out for an hour (no draconids at all, but a lovely night still)
    Then you taunt me with magical lights never seen this far south.
    Bah ;)

  2. Can u predict the future?! (Aurora that is)… Trying to decide if tonights the night I wake up our six year old twins and bundle up and drive North! That’ll take an hour or more … I’m in the city and can’t see anything! Is it cloudy?

    • Patty,
      Sure wish I could predict the future. I try my best with aurora. There will be a continuing chance for aurora tonight (Tues.). Check your forecast to make sure the sky will be clear before you make the drive. I’ll also have an update on my blog this evening. Good luck!

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