Bright Aurora Lighting Up The Sky RIGHT NOW Oct. 1-2

Amazing aurora around 10 p.m. Tuesday night. The entire northern sky was filled with featureless bars and patches of pale green with a hint of red. Big Dipper is at the bottom of the scene. Credit: Bob King

Surprise! The aurora is lighting up the northern sky right now (11:30 p.m. CDT), so go out for a look. I just got back from out in the country where the display was spectacular. As usual, the northern lights began as a subtle brightening and low arc in the northern sky. around 9 p.m. The display slowly gained height and extent across the north until by 10 p.m. it was a huge bar of green, featureless light bright enough to cast shadows.

A singular patch of aurora glows beneath the Pleiades star cluster at center. Beautiful red rays as seen in the time exposure were only faintly visible with the naked eye. Credit: Bob King

Meanwhile, another isolated patch glowed like an ember beneath the Pleiades in the northeastern sky. Odd arches and bars shot up in the west and across the south but no sharp, distinguishing features like rays ever appeared. At least not to the naked eye. The camera recorded amazing red rays that were only faintly visible as streaky haze.

Check this out. This huge, featureless auroral cloud was so bright it cast shadows. Intense! Credit: Bob King

Activity remains high – don’t miss the chance to see it. The view is still very nice here in Duluth, Minn. I just ducked out for another look and can see rays all the way past the zenith and into the southern sky. Awesome!

The CME (coronal mass ejection) that blasted off the sun on Sept. 30 when a large filament – suspended incandescent hydrogen gas – erupted. Click to watch a nice animation of the event. Credit: NASA / ESA

So what’s going on? It looks like we just got hit with the early arrival of a solar outburst (coronal mass ejection) that happened Sunday night. The solar wind increased in speed and the magnetic field it carried from the sun tipped sharply southward Tuesday evening just before 9 p.m. CDT.


23 Responses

  1. betty

    Saw big scintillating rays all the way from the north to the Pleiades and Orion, from 2 45 to 3 30. I knew there wasn’t a moon, but my bedroom was bright as if there was one.

  2. Mike

    I checked the prediction page from Alaska at 10:15 which was at a 1 or next to no chance of aurora. Then there is. Is this unreliable? Is there another with better accuracies in predictions?

      1. Mike

        Awesome! Thank you Bob! Never want to miss one if possible!

        May I ask you for the best tip page for aurora photography?

        Thank you!


        1. astrobob

          Hi Mike,
          Not sure what the best page is. Here’s my advice: middle to high-end camera, fast lens (at least f/2.8), wide angle (at least 24 mm), ISO 800 for bright auroras and 1600 for faint. Exposure between 15-30 seconds. That’s all my distilled wisdom!

  3. james

    Hi Bob i was trying to find something out was there a lunar eclipse this morning between 6:00am and 6:30am CST I’m located in Des Moines, Iowa I noticed the moon disappeared and then came back. I caught it just as the last bit of light went away and then came back it was only for a brief moment. Do you witness or have any information on this just wondering.

    1. astrobob

      Hi James,
      No, no eclipse this morning. The moon is a thin crescent right now; lunar eclipses can only happen when the moon is full.

  4. Whitney

    Hi Astro Bob

    I was wondering if you could suggest some areas to view the Northern Lights around the Hermantown area?

    1. astrobob

      Hi Whitney,
      You’re in a pretty good spot since there’s not much north of you. Twig would be great or out west of Hermantown on a rural road.

  5. Elizabeth

    I’m up in northern MN and noticed the aurora just before midnight and went for a long walk to watch the show. For a while I saw a “star burst” pattern right over head and later a perfect arc to the north. It appeared that about a 1/3 of the sky was lit up and looked like sheer silk fluttering in the wind.

  6. Bob Crozier

    Heu Bob,

    I would like to ask about the CME video that you included in this post. I have seen these kinds of videos before and have always noticed the streaking objects that get recorded. Sometimes these things go by so fast that they only show up on a single frame!

    One video that I saw had the CME come right at and then blow past the satellite taking the video. As soon as the CME went past the satellite, there was an immediate drop – *almost* a complete cessation! – in the number these objects whizzing through the video. Then they slowly started coming back in number, but not to the same extent as before the CME blew past the satellite.

    Can you explain to me what these objects are and how fast they are really moving?

    I know, I know, so many questions! Man, I could ask you questions for hours at a time! I’m trying not to do that to you, though!

    Thanks Bob!
    Live ready!

        1. astrobob

          Yes, the Kp index is up to “4” right now at 10:45 p.m. CDT. From here in Duluth, that probably means a low glow in the northern sky. Unfortunately it’s raining here tonight. Activity surged again late this afternoon during daylight hours in the Americas. N. Europe must have seen a great show.

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