Fall was a very eventful season for aurora hunters around the world. The sun kicked up in activity and it appeared that we might get a busy winter ahead. Unfortunately, winter never got to the levels it did on October 7th.
The sun had a pretty wild group of sunspots but they had calmed down while facing earth. Before they were completely out of range, they decided to flare up with a moderate M-Class flare. To top it all off, there was a huge coronal hole on the center disk of the sun that resembled Australia. This coronal hole was a beast and added to that potential mayhem was the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) which had taken place on September 30th.
The following days I spent far too much time watching the readings from the space agencies anticipating what would happen. The average time for solar events to affect the earth is about three days but with big CME’s, it can take far less, however this again was only moderate.
During this time, Venus, Mars and Jupiter were aligning with Earth in our eastern sky.
Every planet has a magnetic connection to the sun. This connection acts like a conduit. When a CME happens on or near enough to make contact with this magnetic connection, we get was it called a Proton Flux where we get a blast of protons. The graph below shows this take place. The chart with the earth spread out and a purple circle shows the X-ray blast we receive from these sunspot flares. It takes the X-rays approximately 15 minutes to arrive. The color represents the intensity of the X-ray blast. Unfortunately, I caught the end of it so it doesn’t show the intensity it really had at its peak.
Below is the prediction that NOAA released. This not only depicts the trajectory but also the hypothesized density.
This was a post from spaceweather.com’s website.
The chart below monitors the magnetic field of the earth. This is a very important tool for aurora enthusiasts. It’s with this chart that you can actually see when a CME or a coronal hole stream begin to interact with earth. This series of charts shows this happening very nicely.
This graph monitors the magnetosphere and the solar wind. The top two monitor the magnetosphere and the other three monitor the solar wind.
The chart below monitors disturbances in the magnetic field. When these disturbances are great it puts the earth into what we call a geomagnetic storm. Intense geomagnetic storms are what can cause transformer fires by inducing electricity into power lines. Satellites begin to drag and if they’re not tended to, can fall back down and burn up in the atmosphere. HAM radio operators have difficulty communicating during these storms. They’ve also been suspect for causing problems to computers and other electronic devices.
These models are simulated aurora. They’re the easiest way to check if you’re anywhere close to seeing aurora and approximately what time is best to view it. As you can see from this event, it was very intense.
Clear skies allowed me to be lucky enough to capture this wonderful experience. Before it got dark I could see the aurora. I couldn’t capture that with the camera but I knew things would be exciting that night. As the night grew, so did the intensity. This was the best aurora I witnessed in 2015. My neighbor came out to shoot pictures with me. We were both floored.
This is a picture of my camera’s display.
Here is the space weather news from this event. The picture I was credited for was a picture my friend took of me while I was taking pictures.