Chance Of Auroras Tonight May 23-24

Click to see a video showing a nice variety of views of the May 22 flare from the space-based solar observatories SDO and SOHO. 
A strong M5-class flare from sunspot region 1745 on May 22 sent a sideways blast of material from the sun into space. A portion of it is expected to brush past Earth overnight and possibly spark auroras. There’s a 20% chance for a minor auroral storm for mid-latitudes and a 55% chance of a major storm at high latitudes. Tomorrow night that drops to 15% / 30%.

According to  the smack down happens around 7 a.m. Central time tomorrow morning May 24. Don’t take that too literally – the ebb and flow of solar particles and their success in circumventing Earth’s protective magnetic field to create an aurora can make times a bit unpredictable.

Complicating viewing forecasts is the nearly full moon; its light can easily wash away a modest aurora. So it sounds like I’m discouraging you, but I’m really not. Keep an eye on the Kp index (an indicator of potential auroral activity) and the auroral oval. If the index jumps into the red where Kp=5 or greater, consider stepping outside for a look.

4 Responses

  1. nick

    Bob! Are auroras lookn promising for tonight? May 25-26. The reports are sayn a strong kp is projected for tonight! would like to knoww if the 2 hr drive to duluth is worth it!

    1. astrobob

      Auroras look very possible – the Kp’s high at the moment. However – the moon is still full and will compromise the view. I will update the blog here in about one hour with the latest from the Net and my front yard 😉

  2. nick

    Well Bob, i decided against driving up from st paul. I felt like with weather being questionable and the moon being full id wait for another time. However, i have yet to see my first aurora display so I’m hoping to maybe see them sometime this summer or fall! I look forward to your updates to come on tonight!!

    1. astrobob

      I think you made a good choice. We may have had low aurora earlier but none is visible now and there are quite a lot of high clouds over the Duluth area as of 11-11:30 p.m. Hopefully you’ll have another opportunity soon.

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