Quiet Aurora – So Far – In Upper Midwest Tonight June 1-2

The northern lights at 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning June 2. Low clouds at left glow orange from city light pollution. One faint ray stands above a low, double arc. Photo: Bob King

The sky has finally cleared here in Duluth, Minn. and I can see a low glow that looks like the start of dawn in the northern sky. Yes, the aurora is out, but it’s pretty quiet tonight. A greenish arc is hunkered down near the horizon; now and again a faint ray appears and then fades away.

I wanted to send out this brief report despite the late hour for all those aurora seekers out there.

4 Responses

  1. Sean

    Hey Bob. I have been looking out for aurora the past 2 nights from the S part of Fall River MA. I am on the 3rd floor and actually have a very low view at parts of my N vista. I am in an urban area, tho my backyard to the N is dark as it is basically enclosed by the backs of other buildings. However the glow of the city itself has made it impossible for me to distinguish any actual aurora in the N skies. oh to be in the suburbs! anyway here’s my real ?: Are there any geostationary/synchronous satellites that would be flaring this time of year? I know this is not the traditional season for them. At about 11:20PM Eastern Time i was skygazing at a nearby park and noticed something anomalous – near Yed Prior and Posterior (a little to the NE of both of them), there was a light shining, as bright as one of those stars. I have lots of experience watching satellites and satellite flares, which have an obvious motion, and this was just staying put. I stupidly did not train my binoculars on the light at that time. I though to myself, i swear there isn’t a star there of that brightness, and told myself i’d investigate online later. was it possible that there was a star of nearly the same brightness there and i simply hadn’t paid much attention to it b4? or had i been lucky enough to somehow catch the beginning of a supernova’s visibility or something? Well about 5 minutes later i decided to check it out with binoculars, and this light was COMPLETELY GONE, at least to the naked eye. I tried to memorize the configuration of some of the stars i saw in the general area with binoculars so i could check back and see if one of those disappears by say tomoro night, which would indicate that indeed it may have been a geosynchronous flare. Let me emphasize again, i watched this “star” long enough that i DEFINITELY would have detected any noticeable motion vis-a-vis background stars. My first thought was, this actually isn’t far from the anthelion, although would be a little N of it, since the anthelion would be on the ecliptic, but as far as E-W position it would be very close, so could it have been a satellite about to get eclipsed by the sun – pr just exiting the shadow. And indeed when i checked astroviewer later on there are no bright stars in that region. Any insight?

  2. Daniel Wilczek

    Dang I almost went out, but I wasn’t sure they would be out. Where in Duluth is the best place to get shots of the Northern lights without light pollution? Where was this one taken? It looks like on top of skyline.

    1. astrobob

      Daniel,
      That photo was taken Saturday night on Riley Road in Rice Lake Township. Good places to go are Brighton Beach, up Rice Lake Road north toward Island Lake, up Hwy. 61 toward Two Harbors and then pull off on say McQuade or Homestead Road, drive north and turn onto a dirt road.

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