Aurora Sneaks Up On Us — More And Better Expected Tonight

William Wiethoff of Port Wing, Wis. got this beauty photo of the aurora and Big Dipper over Lake Superior last night. More northern lights are expected tonight.

Yesterday afternoon the space weather forecast looked pretty dull with Kp indices about 1 and 2. But by early evening the new forecast predicted a minor storm. And yes, it happened! I’ve been attending the Northern Night Star Fest, an annual event put on the Minnesota Astronomical Society near the town of McGregor, Minn. There are lots of great speakers, a swap table and of course dark skies.

Similar rays and arc photographed about the same time over a 100 miles away near McGregor, Minn. Bob King

Last night we noticed a green glow near the northern horizon at the end of evening twilight that swelled into a thick arc chalked with several pink (in the camera only) brush-like rays. Clouds tried to ruin the view, but the northern sky stayed clear enough that a bunch of us were able to take in the modest show and get a few photos to boot despite the heavily forested environment.

Despite occasional clouds we had some great views of the Milky Way draped across the southern sky last night. Bob King

Because the aurora arrived early you might think it’s all spent. No. It turned into a moderate (G2) storm around 6 a.m. Central Time today in a too-bright sky to see. Further northwest in Washington State I have a hunch aurora-seekers saw a sweet pre-dawn show. The 3-day-forecast still calls for a moderate G2 storm tonight August 31 between 7 and 10 p.m. Central Time then dropping back to a G1(minor) for the rest of the night into Sunday morning the 1st. You can check on the extent of the aurora and whether it’s over or near your region by clicking here.

Watch out! The star party has an official Photon Inspector (Valts Treibergs) whose job it is to crack down on any use of white light during dark observing time. Bob King

So by all means keep close watch on the sky tonight for northern lights. It’s still going strong.

**Are you tired about hearing how we never went to the moon? Want the definitive answer on which direction water goes down the drain?  Pre-order my new book titled Urban Legends from Space from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Indiebound  at a nice discount for the answers to these questions and many more.