Surprise aurora blows up tonight Nov. 13-14

Aurora through moderate cloud cover tonight in Duluth, Minn. around 11 p.m. Photo: Bob King

Woo-hoo! The aurora’s nearly out-competing the clouds tonight. The Kp index, a good indicator of auroral activity, shot up to “6” or moderate storm level this evening around 9-10 p.m. As of 11 o’clock (CST) the northern sky was thick with a bright, green haze and large, soft rays extending nearly to the zenith. If it’s clear by you, take a look outside and don’t forget to bring a camera.

The auroral oval – the area where auroras are visible – has expanded well into the northern U.S. tonight Nov. 13-14. The map is based on satellite measurements made at 11:03 p.m. CST. Credit: NOAA

The satellite plot shows the northern lights dipping down across the full northern tier of states and fairly deep into Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Interestingly, the NOAA space weather forecast has been predicting only “quiet” conditions the past few days. Apparently our planet’s stuck in the tail end of a high-speed stream of solar particles from a coronal mass ejection.

My photo only hints at what someone with clear skies would see. To see what it really looked liked, check out the photo below. Closer to home, Sarah D’Angelo had clear skies in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and took these pictures from Whitefish Point last night.

A spectacular display of lights crowns the city of Tromso, Norway last night. Even the city’s light pollution couldn’t dim the aurora’s glory. Credit and copyright: Ole Salomonsen

UPDATE 11/14: The aurora raged all night, but the storm now appears to be subsiding. If by chance Earth’s magnetosphere works itself into a lather again tonight, I’ll update with fresh information. Meanwhile, check out more pictures of both the aurora and yesterday’s total eclipse HERE.

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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.

8 thoughts on “Surprise aurora blows up tonight Nov. 13-14

  1. Did anyone else see the circular bright flashes in the Northen sky at about 5:20 am? I have spoken with two others who saw them from Cloquet and Esko.

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