Super Aurora Friday Night, Stronger Storms Predicted For Saturday Night

Interesting shapes and colors of the aurora late Friday night north of Duluth, Minn. Credit: Bob King

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.

The aurora broke out into a big display around 11:40 p.m. The rays filled the entire northern sky. Credit: Bob King

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!

I got lucky and snagged a fairly bright meteor while taking this 20-second time exposure of the aurora around midnight Friday. It wasn’t a Lyrid. Credit: Bob King

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.

Like a picket fence or candles on a birthday cake, these rays filled the northern sky around 11:45 p.m. They were really beautiful! Hopefully we’ll see more tonight. Credit: Bob King

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.

2 Responses

  1. Erin

    Awesome!!! Thanks for sharing. I wonder if people south of Duluth saw the lights last night? I hope there’s more tonight.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Erin,

      I do know that some people in the Eau Claire area saw it. Unfortunately, tonight’s weather’s not so good.

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