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.
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.
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!
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.