I didn’t expect much aurora Friday night based on the forecast. Maybe a low, green arc at most. But no, the sky put on an incredible show that continues even now into the wee hours of Saturday. I first saw a faint, glowing haze low in the northeastern sky around 10 p.m. CDT. The camera revealed subtle purplish rays. An hour later, a thick, long green-hued arc stretched across the bottom half of the northern sky.
Faint rays and pillars unfurled from the arc and reached up to around 30° hight around 11:20. Then the whole thing just exploded. Must have been about 11:30. A picket fence of rays shot up and filled the entire northern sky followed by some truly gnarly arcs. It was so big and sudden, the effect was overwhelming, making you want to shout outloud — which I did!
Faint, pulsing aurora pushed past the zenith across the top of the southern sky. By midnight, rays and arcs twisted and danced while pulses of light, like waves coming ashore, “flowed” through the more static features of the display. Words just don’t do it justice.
Stronger than normal solar winds were the cause of Friday night’s northern lights display. NOAA space weather forecasters are predicting an even stronger G2 geomagnetic storm Saturday night into Sunday morning. Bring it on!
** I love watching the northern lights and spend a full chapter on the topic in my book Night Sky with the Naked Eye. In it you’ll learn what causes the aurora and when and where to see it with help of daily e-mails and apps. You can pick up a copy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble online or at your nearest Barnes & Noble store.