Surprise aurora a real, long-lasting beauty!

Photo: Auroral display, Knox County, Ohio, Oct. 24, 2011. By Joe Golias.
Auroral display, Knox County, Ohio, Oct. 24, 2011, by Joe Golias.

The event began, for many of us, with a flash message from early Monday evening:

CME IMPACT: A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth’s magnetic field on Oct. 24th around 1800 UT (2 pm EDT).  The impact strongly compressed our planet’s magnetosphere and may have exposed geosynchronous satellites to solar wind plasma.  Mild to moderate geomagnetic storms are possible in the hours ahead as Earth’s magnetic field continues to reverberate from the hit.  Sky watchers in Scandinavia, Canada, and northern-tier US States should be alert for auroras, especially during the hours around local midnight.  Check for updates.

As it happened, not only were the “northern-tier US States” treated but locales as far south as Mississippi and Arkansas saw vivid displays of the northern lights. Relatively rare red auroral activity was reported commonly during the event.

CAA members Bob Pence, Steve Gallant, Chris Christie, and Susan Petsche were among the lucky ones who viewed the display over Greater Cleveland.

Member and accomplished astro-photographer Joe Golias was even more fortunate. Golias was at his dark-sky observing location in Knox County with a grand opportunity for the surprise show. He was also on-site with the right gear to record and share the sight.

Photo: Brilliant red aurora over rural Ohio the night of October 24, 2011. By Joe Golias.
Bright red aurora, a relative rarity, dominates the Knox County sky. Photo by Joe Golias.

“The auroras from my location in Knox County were visible between 7:30 PM until 2:00 AM,” said Golias. “The green aurora was present continuously throughout the night while the red rays were visible during the peak time and on an off until 2:00 AM.”

For many other views of the surprise aurora of October 24, visit and stay alert… solar activity is already high and is rising.