Aurora Alert Tonight And Sat. Aug. 30-31; Jupiter And Moon A Sweet Sight

The aurora was out during late twilight Friday evening Aug. 30. This photo was taken a little later around 9:45 p.m. and shows a pretty rayed arc that stretched to about 35 degrees high in the northern sky. Credit: Bob King

There’s a chance for a minor northern lights storm tonight and tomorrow night for skywatchers in the northern U.S. and southern Canada. Both an increase in the speed of the solar wind and a favorable orientation of the local solar magnetic field are behind the uptick. In the meantime, check the Kp index. If Kp = 4 or higher, auroras are possible. (Update: the aurora DID make an appearance early this evening.)

Jupiter and moon with Mars and Orion to boot are well-placed in the eastern sky around 4 a.m. tomorrow morning Aug. 31. Stellarium

Typically the best time to catch the lights is around midnight, but if you’re up even later, you’ll be able to see a wonderful conjunction of Jupiter and the crescent moon in the constellation Gemini. Look to the east between 2:30 and 5 a.m. local time tomorrow morning Saturday.

12 Responses

  1. Edward M. Boll

    Before I saw this post, I was thinking 4:10 AM. Starting September 1, find Mars,then aim your telescopes at ISON. That time should work throughout the month. Not only will the comet get higher it should get brighter. Many with amateur scopes should see it by October 1, or before.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Ed,
      I plan a detailed series of charts for hard-core amateurs to attempt the comet very soon. The moon will have to leave the area first before visual observations are possible.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Bill,
      Yes, just got back from observing. It was a moderately nice show early around from 9:15 till around 10:15. A bright arc and tall, faint rays. Were you able to see it?

      1. Bill S

        I was going to go out did not want to go alone. I saw that the index was at 4. Sighhhhhhhhh

        It is possible to somehow to get a real timeline as to the light’s showing. When the KP index is showing at 4 or better, maybe there are others beside yourself that can post on a blog or site that would alert others (as they check the site). (how you do two jobs is beyond me)

        There is something so unique to being able to see the Northern Lights Auroras as to not take advantage of them is criminal.

        My two bits

        1. astrobob

          It’s tricky because I’ll go out and see the aurora but won’t have phone service in some places, so I can’t post a Twitter alert. Occasionally I’m in places that do have service and I’ll post live on Twitter. If you haven’t already, click on the Twitter button on my blog and sign up. That will help. Otherwise, there are other ways to know if the aurora’s out. Here’s an article I did on the topic for Universe Today:

          I’m not aware of a real timeline because it depends on where you live and the weather. Someone might see an aurora low in the northern sky from International Falls for instance that wouldn’t clear the horizon for someone in central Wisconsin. Plus, the extent of the aurora is always changing. Last night it was best during late twilight and early evening, then faded back by 11 p.m.

  2. Edward M. Boll

    At 3 AM, this morning low in the east was Jupiter which according to the almanac rose 4 minutes before the Moon. Off to the left was Castor and Pollux. Tomorrow at 3, the 3 will be up, but not the Moon. The next morning, on Labor Day, Monday morning the Moon rises after 4 and after ISON rise. So, we can begin our ISON observing on Labor Day. It is closest to the Sun at Thanksgiving and nearly it’s closest to Earth at Christmas.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Edward,
      Observers can try and are actively hunting the comet now but I’m holding off till the morning of the 3rd. That’s when the moon will rise late enough to not be a factor. I’m tempted to try the 2nd but the 11% moon (mag. -7.4) will be only 7 degrees from the comet when it’s finally high enough to see well. Since ISON’s still so faint – around 13-13.5 mag. – and low, many of us will need optimal conditions. Let’s hope the predicted weather forecast holds.

  3. Edward M. Boll

    Thanks, to tell me how the comet is doing. I have seen nothing lately. Comets this week updated early on Saturday last week. This week, late on Saturday this week they have not updated. I do not know if they took off early for the Holiday weekend and will not update till next week. I have seen them skip a week now and then before.

  4. Edward M. Boll

    Lightning tonight, intense and fast but look to the north and at the same time I can see stars. Pretty unusual.

  5. 1:00 am PDT (08 00 UTC Sept 1 ) faint glow in the north here in Penticton, BC (49.5 N 110.6 W) not as strong as last night but outline of mountains clearly visible. Ideal observing conditions for an urban site. Hyades rising in the east and M31 visible with the naked eyes if you know where to look ๐Ÿ™‚

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