Aurora Active Tonight May 10-11

Although generally quiet and rather faint, tonight’s low auroral arc twice broke up into brighter, parallel ray bundles — first at 11:48 p.m. when this photo was taken and again at 12:!2 a.m. Bob King

I was out watching the moon in the Beehive Cluster tonight and noticed a suspicious glow low in the northern sky. It turned out to be the northern lights! Although nothing was forecast to show over northern Minnesota tonight, a dim arc hovered 8° above the north below the W of Cassiopeia around 11:30 p.m. CDT. Moonlight tempered the view, but at 11:48 p.m. just as I’d packed the camera back in the car, the arc brightened and brokeup into little bundles of rays that traveled from west to east. Then just as quickly, it faded only to break out again at 12:12 a.m.

The auroral oval has expanded southward so that the edge of it is currently (1 a.m. CDT) visible from northern Minnesota including Duluth. Click for the most recent oval image. NOAA

All the activity happened within 10° of the horizon in a band extending from northwest to northeast. Biology added  its own excitement to the scene with a host of spring peeper and wood frogs and the sound of rushing water somewhere off in the distance. I left at 12:20 a.m. with the aurora still active. The storm is classified as as minor G1 event and caused by a coronal mass ejection earlier this week. Check it out if you have clear, unpolluted skies to the north.