Wow! What a night. I didn’t get to bed until 1:30 this morning. No regrets though. The display of oozing, expanding, pulsing and darting northern lights was second to none. What made this round of aurora so interesting for me was the nearly complete absence of sharp edges. Everything I saw — even the occasional little rays — appeared soft and ghost-like. Imagine Casper the Friendly Ghost swooshing about and you can kind of picture it. That is, if you didn’t witness the show yourself, which I hope you did.
The aurora pinnacled right up to the zenith and then spilled over into the southern sky with throbbing, amorphous patches of light across constellations rarely tainted by aurora like Ophiuchus and Aquila. Today, I’ve received photos from two localities where auroras are very rare: the Sacramento area in California and central Arizona at latitude +34°North.
A coronal mass ejection from the sun on May 23 arrived yesterday evening and triggered all the excitement. At peak, the geomagnetic storm topped out with a Kp of 7, making it a G3 or strong storm. G3s can affect shortwave radio communications and send auroras as far south as Illinois and Oregon. Well, this storm certainly did better than that. I observed from home and from a quiet road on the most pleasant spring night imaginable with frogs a courtin’ and sweet breezes fluttering the new leaves.
Occasional clouds tried to mess up the scene, but those of us in northern Minnesota waited them out. Nature provided even if it meant staying up late. No problem. I got out of bed happy and hungry at 9 and look forward to auroral leftovers tonight. The current forecast predicts a G1 or minor storm with the northern lights most likely confined to the northern states. But you never know. Take a look no matter where you are tonight.