Pint-sized auroras possible this weekend Jan. 18-20

Jarno Pääkkönen of Finland took this photo of a very colorful northern lights display Thursday morning, Jan. 17, 2013 in Kontiolahti, Finland, latitude 62.7 degrees north. Details: Canon 5D Mark III camera, 20-25 seconds at f/4 and ISO 2000. Click photo to see more of his work.

A heads-up for all you aurora watchers out there. The NOAA space weather forecast  calls for a 30 percent chance for minor geomagnetic storms tonight Jan. 18 through the 20th. That means there’s a small possibility for auroras in the northern U.S. and a much better one for Arctic regions.

Thomas Kast, who also hails from Finland, shot this photo the same night near Rokua, Finland. “Northern lights are never boring!” he says. Kast had to walk through deep snow in -16 F temperatures to get the shot he wanted. Click to see more photos on his Facebook page.

The cause behind the next expected wave is another CME or coronal mass ejection. Similar enhancements in the sun’s wind of subatomic particles have been responsible for recent, widely-visible auroras across Finland, Norway, Iceland and Canada. We came close to seeing minor auroras in the northern U.S. last night, but the burst of activity that visited the Scandinavian countries earlier in the day had died down by the time darkness cloaked the U.S.

Give a look up if it’s clear this weekend, and if you see the northern lights, drop us a report by clicking on the Comments link below.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Pint-sized auroras possible this weekend Jan. 18-20

  1. Hi Bob, this morning at 7 am UK time, a star that was very high up well was that Jupiter as it didn’t seem to be bright enough and then at 7.25 am there was like another star moving across the sky quite slowly can you tell me if that was the ISS, thanks :-)

    • Hi Lynn,
      I’m getting an ISS pass of 7:22 a.m. this morning for London in the UK, so that was probably it. The star you saw high up was Arcturus in the constellation Bootes.

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