Aurora alert – minor storm in progress overnight July 5-6

A thick auroral arc simmers in the northern sky in Duluth, Minn. around midnight-12:30 a.m. Saturday morning July 6. The pink glow is light pollution. Credit: Bob King

A suspicious glow in the north tonight proved to be aurora. Right now activity is moderately high – the solar wind has tipped south – and a soft, very diffuse green aurora covers up to 1/3 of the northern sky. Nothing to write home about … yet.

I watched for about 45 minutes from just north of Duluth, Minn. and never saw a ray, but the dawn-like glow was and still is obvious. The auroral oval map indicates this display could be visible as far south as northern Iowa as of 1 a.m. this Saturday morning.

I wanted to post this alert for aurora-watchers in case the show cranks up before dawn.

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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.

13 thoughts on “Aurora alert – minor storm in progress overnight July 5-6

  1. Hi Bob. reporting same conditions as yours in Penticton, BC (40.5 N; 119.6 W) definitely not last of the twilight. smoke from forest fires in the Yukon that was an annoying observing factor last night is absent tonight. Thanks for the report updates :)

  2. Hi, I’m in Montana N.W. corner and about 1am noticed odd lights, no color, but still seemed to be arora ;-) coming across the sky past half point from where I was observing. Very nice on a nice clear night here. 7-6-13 AM

  3. We stayed up till 4am up at Pike Lake yesterday. We did not see anything. Any chance for the Auroras tonight?

    • Hi Daniel,
      I’m surprised you saw nothing. Could it have been too cloudy in your northern sky. From Lakewood, dark clouds were in silhouette against the aurora – which formed an arc / glow – till at least 1:30 a.m. No auroras are in the forecast for tonight.

  4. Too cloudy here. I have been looking at the future ephemeris of Comet Lemmon. It looks like this year around Aug. 9, it reaches it’s northern most declination, around 70 degrees north. July 27, 2014 it reaches a north declination of around 78 degrees north. If it fades as it should, according to the ephemeris, I estimate that by then 12 months from now, it may still be visible in a 12 inch telescope.

    • Hi Edward,
      According to Yoshida’s light curve Comet Lemmon will have faded below mag. 13 by year’s end making it a challenging object for a 12-inch. The JPL Horizons curve is far less optimistic putting it below 16 mag. by mid-November.

  5. Hey, have you heard about Comet Blanpain, not seen since 1819. Next year’s perihelion in August favors a Southern declination. If the current outburst continues it could be visible in a 6 inch telescope around magnitude 10.

    • Edward,
      Yes, this sounds very interesting. We can only hope it has a similar massive outburst like the one in 1819 otherwise it’s doubtful we’ll see it in amateur scopes.

  6. It now favors the Southern Hemisphere, next year, the north. With an orbital period of less than 6 years, I doubt that this one will be worth keeping track of this time next year.

  7. I took the Harvard ephemeris of about magnitude 14 for Lemmon, added 6 magnitudes of brightening to magnitude 8, which would put it at about magnitude 16 next July. I then realized that that is too faint for a 12 inch telescope. I now see that it is dimmer than magnitude 9 which would be 17 if we are fortunate next July. On July 3 or 4 , I saw a faint flicker of light about magnitude 9 with my 20 by 60 binoculars. I do not know that it was Lemmon or not. Can you still see a tail from Lemmon with your telescope?

    • Edward,
      Yes, I had a fine view in my 15-inch early in the week under a dark sky when the comet was alongside NGC 7789. Well-condensed coma ~4′ in diameter with a faint, smooth tail 5-6′ long pointing southwest. I estimated its magnitude at 9.3.

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