Aurora Surprise Follows The Perseid Shower

The aurora kicked in around midnight with a pretty show of rays and bright green arc in the northern sky this morning. A meteor (top middle) even flashed by during the exposure. Credit: Bob King

With only a slight chance for auroras overnight Aug. 13-14 I was surprised to catch a decent little show starting around 11:30 p.m.  The display peaked about midnight-12:30 a.m. this morning August 14 and then settled back to a quiet arc. That’s where it stands now at 2 a.m. CDT, If your skies are clear it would be worth a look in case activity picks up.

A quiet, low auroral arc in the north around 11:30 p.m. Credit: Bob King

I almost posted an alert before leaving for the countryside to view Neptune and a new comet but all looked quiet at the time. When I arrived, a pale whitish arc hung low in the north. Not 10 minutes later the arc burst into rays that reached 20-30 degrees high. Some were very bright, other like faint fingers.

Ten minutes after the previous photo, the arc sprouted a series of parallel rays. Credit: Bob King

My eyes saw pale green and maybe hints of red, but time exposures with the camera recorded spectacular colors. The likely cause for this show of northern lights is the early arrival of streams of faster-moving solar particles flowing from a large coronal hole in the sun’s northern hemisphere.

Beautiful rays highlight this photo that includes the Big Dipper at left and center. Credit: Bob King

Since so many of you have been out watching the Perseid meteor shower, I’m hoping you caught this surprise gig. Speaking of which, I saw a half dozen shower members this morning and was hardly even trying. The space weather forecast calls for “active” conditions the next couple nights, one level below “minor storm”. I’ll keep you posted.

8 Responses

  1. Edward M. Boll

    I looked at 3 AM. The north sky looked jet black to me, except for stars. I used to see Northern lights every once in a while. It has been years since I have seen any. My youngest 10 years old does not know what they look like in actually seeing them.

    1. astrobob

      They were still there but very dim and low by 2 a.m. If you had been out at midnight I’m certain you would have seen them.

  2. Sleep Deprived

    Last night, the German Shepherd and I were out on the front porch for Night #3 of meteor watching. I saw the arc hanging low but, with the ground fog emerging, I couldn’t be sure if Auroras or not. Cool meteors, loons calling between the three neighborhood lakes, and KAPOW ! a burst of Northern Lights.. like someone had flipped on a switch! It could’ve been a Minnesota Tourism Bureau commercial with special effects. How fortunate we are to live here!! Best hour of the summer right there.

  3. Kathy Krisak

    I enjoyed watching the meteor shower over the last two evenings. I saw many, but missed the display of the Northern Lights. I did see, something that looked like a satellite, but it seemed to dim and then get bright again, and then BAM!, just like a bright flash bulb, it flashed a bright light. It then dimmed again, and then got bright and then another flash. It stayed dim until I lost it at the horizon. Wonder what that was? I plan to watch for meteors again tonight, as the skies have been so clear, not to mention little to no bugs!

    1. astrobob

      Hi Kathy,
      I think you missed my earlier reply to your question. You saw a tumbling rocket stage or some such other defunct piece of equipment used to launch a satellite in orbit. They tumble and reflect light in sometimes chaotic ways.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Melanie,
      There is a chance for aurora but I’ve been out most of the night and saw only a very low, small glow at most. Right now it’s quiet. Of course that could change.

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