Last night’s auroras were very good before 1 a.m. Central time, but they got even better between 2 and 3. So I’m told. It’s too bad we need sleep or so many more of us would have seen the peak of this spectacular geomagnetic storm. What’s a sky watcher to do?
The Kp-index, an indicator of magnetic activity associated with the northern lights, has continued to ding the bell at “5” (minor storm) and higher all day long. As of noon CST Earth was still experiencing a G2 or moderate geomagetic storm. Typical effects include shortwave radio fadeouts, extra drag on orbiting satellites and auroras as far south as New York and Idaho. When the index updated around 1 p.m. activity was beginning to subside.
As any of you who’ve read this blog before know, the northern lights can be very fickle. Will we see them again tonight? I’ll only say that there might still be potential after-affects from the whoosh of solar plasma that whacked our planet’s magnetosphere yesterday. Certainly if it’s clear, go out and check. I’ll also be monitoring them from the aurora situation room here in Duluth, Minn.
Oddly, the NOAA space weather forecast hasn’t been updated since yesterday afternoon when “all quiet” was the call for last night. Tonight the moon will rise around 11 p.m. allowing more time for dark skies.
If you live in a city with light pollution all around, drive north – that’s where the aurora does most of its dancing. Before you go, check back here for an update to make sure it’s worth your while.
UPDATE 8:30 p.m. CST Feb. 19: No auroral alerts. Quiet night so far with K index = 3.