Auroras dazzle over Minnesota, repeat performance possible tonight

An impressive display of auroras dazzled onlookers in the northern latitudes overnight.

The show was visible in much of Minnesota in the predawn hours today. I spoke with storm chaser and photographer Doug Kiesling today about the show last night. Doug captured some remarkable photos and video near St. Cloud overnight, including this image of a green aurora and a meteor fireball.

Image: Douglas Kiesling used with permission

A so called ‘G-class’ solar storm is buffeting earth. Astronomy watchers at spaceweather.com describe the impact, and the prospects for more auroras tonight.

CME IMPACT, GEOMAGNETIC STORM: An interplanetary shock wave, possibly the leading edge of a CME, hit Earth’s magnetic field on October 8th at approximately 2015 UT (1:15 pm PDT). The impact sparked a G1-classgeomagnetic storm (in progress) and bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. 

Earth is passing through the wake of the CME where a region of high-speed solar wind continues to buffet our planet’s magnetic field. NOAA forecasters, who suspect that a second CME might arrive on Oct. 9th, estimate a 65% chance of polar geomagnetic storms during the next 24 hours. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.

The Estimated 3-hour Planetary Kp-index is derived at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center using data from the following ground-based magnetometers: Boulder, Colorado; Chambon la Foret, France; Fredericksburg, Virginia; Fresno, California; Hartland, UK; Newport, Washington; Sitka, Alaska; Jeju, Korea. These data are made available thanks to the cooperative efforts between SWPC and data providers around the world, which currently includes the U.S. Geological Survey, the British Geological Survey, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and the Korean Space Weather Center.

The auroras were visible over much of the northern hemisphere overnight. You can see more great photos at spaceweather.com.

There is a chance for another show tonight. Here’s the discussion from NOAA’s Space Weather Center.

2013-10-09 01:05 UTC  Minor Geomagnetic Storm Occurring

A shock in the solar wind passed earth late on October 8 (UTC) bringing unanticipated G1 (Minor) Geomagnetic Storm activity.  The brunt of the disturbance is expected through the early hours of October 9 (UTC), then followed by a second pulse later on October 9. Watch for updates here.

Best viewing is away from city lights in the northern sky. Keep you eyes in the sky!