Quiet night for auroras Feb 21/22

The aurora forecast for tonight and the next few nights are quiet. No significant aurora activity is expected. Up north, such as in the Fairbanks area, we expect to see the “typical” quiet aurora band across the horizon. The Kp level at most is predicted to be Kp 2. Cloudy skies may block the view, as auroras are more than 60 miles upwards in the atmosphere. Conditions can change daily, so if anything of note happens, we will update.

I was at Chena Hot Springs the other night with friends and a faint aurora band was seen. I overheard a lady say she saw red lights. I am not so sure there were red lights, I only saw a faint green band. She went on to comment to her friend she thought red auroras were only seen during certain times of the year. This is false. The aurora colors can appear anytime of year, anytime of the night. The colors depend on the electrons entering the earth’s upper atmosphere, colliding with atoms of oxygen and nitrogen at various altitudes. Red is a bit more rare than green but it is seen. We see pinks much more often up here in Alaska, usually on the edge of a green aurora. I have found some interesting websites over the years to explore aurora colors more in depth. Have a look:

Colors of the Aurora

Atmospheric Optics

Auroras Paintings in the Sky

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Auroras AGAIN tonight, but likely Kp 3

The forecast is calling for storm level auroras again tonight, but so far the data does not support that, we wait and see what happens! We should see auroras, but most likely around Kp 3. It is currently Kp 4. Still great for Fairbanks and lower on the horizon further south, such as Anchorage.

We get our forecasts direct from the source, at NOAA Space Weather.

 

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Auroras again tonight, Feb 17/18

The Kp level is 6. Data is looking great for more auroras tonight in the entire state of Alaska, all of Canada, and the upper portion of the contiguous USA. The lowest Kp forecast for tonight overnight is Kp 3. The higher the Kp level (along with other data) means that the aurora can be seen further south. So a 3 is still great for Alaskans, but a 6 may be seen into the northern states. Remember, auroras come and go during the night, so if they appear faint, you wait (sometimes a long time). The best time tonight to catch the lights are when it is dark. Auroras may be seen until the sun rises. If you can’t stay up late, get up early! Data fluctuates. It may or may not be seen at any given time. The best views and photos come from those who are patient enough to wait (or just get lucky!)

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Happy aurora hunting to all that are headed out! For those not in the aurora oval, head over to the cams when it is dark. Here are a few:

Aurora Cam via Poker Flat, Chatanika, Alaska

All-Sky Aurora Cam via Poker Flat, Chatanika, Alaska

Alaska Aurora Cam, Fairbanks, Alaska

Alaska Aurora Cam, Fairbanks, Alaska

ABN Aurora Cam, North Pole, Alaska

ABN Aurora Cam, North Pole, Alaska

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Tonight, Feb 16/17, Lights highly probable

Current Kp index is 5. Entire state of Alaska be ready for lights tonight, likely an all-nighter. Expect lights anytime it’s dark. Look north if not overhead. Although the G1 storm may wane, Kp 4 is still excellent.

Continued conditions from a CME and CH HSS are hitting earth. Lights also forecast for tomorrow night, Feb 17/18.

Northern lights expected tonight. Kp 4

Most of Alaska can expect lights tonight, with possible G1 storm conditions. Kp 5 possible both tonight and tomorrow night. Hopefully the weather is clear in your area. Date and time of this post is Feb 15, 2016 at 7 pm.

The most common question I get is, “what time will the lights be out?” & “when is the best time to start looking for lights?”. The answer is anytime it’s dark but typically in the middle of the night.

From NOAA Space Weather:The geomagnetic field is expected to be at (G1-Minor) storm
conditions early on day one (16 Feb), due to a possible late arrival of
the 11 Feb CME. Conditions should return to below G1 storm levels for
much of the remainder of day one, before returning to (G1-Minor) storm
conditions late on day two (17 Feb), due to the onset of a negative
polarity CH HSS. Day three (18 Feb) should see persistent CH HSS effects
in which elevated, but less than G1 conditions, are likely.

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