Chance for auroras across northern U.S. tonight Oct. 14-15

Coronal hole aimed at Earth photographed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in far ultraviolet light on Oct. 11. Credit: NASA

My meters, graphs and gauges indicate a chance for northern lights overnight for the northern U.S. and southern Canada. Although the official forecast doesn’t sound promising, the Kp index, an indicator of magnetic activity overhead, is in the yellow zone (Kp=4) and satellite plots of the auroral oval show it spreading across Canada and pushing southward toward the U.S. border. This as of 10:30 p.m. CDT.

Either a coronal mass ejection – an outburst of high speed subatomic particles from the sun – or a stronger than usual gust of solar wind from a coronal hole is behind the enhanced activity. Coronal holes are open regions in the sun’s atmosphere not buckled down by solar magnetism. Strong winds of electrons and protons can flow from the holes and spark auroras on Earth.

Unfortunately I can’t do a sky check here in Duluth because the only thing pouring from my sky tonight is rain. Chances for more auroras continue through tomorrow evening Oct. 15-16. As always, keep an eye.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Chance for auroras across northern U.S. tonight Oct. 14-15

  1. Rainy here the last 2 days. If it is clear I ,may have an Encke look tomorrow. ISON should be an easy target, the opposite direction from Mars as Regulus if one has enough magnification.

  2. no luck with auroras last night despite clear skies. The waxing Moon’s glare isn’t helping my semi-urban location in British Columbia. Looking forward to October 26th’s last quarter.
    Great post on auroras’ photography yesterday on “Universe Today” but it looks like someone is eying your current title of “Lake Superior Aurora Meister” http://www.universetoday.com/105534/timelapse-aurora-over-lake-michigan/
    Thank You again Bob :)

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