An impressive train of sunspots has been making its way across the face of our nearest star this week. In the photo above: Designated AR2447 (small group to the left), AR2443 (bigger and darker, near center), and AR2445 (far right), the “Active Regions” have the potential of unleashing flares. In fact, AR2445 was the source of a flare that caused this week’s “northern lights” sighted across northern latitude locations around the world. Now rotating over the Sun’s limb, AR2445 won’t be aimed at Earth for a while — if ever again — but AR2443 has potential for high-energy flares.
Photo credit: James Guilford. Canon EOS 7D II: ISO 400, f/11, 1/1250 sec., 400mm lens with Astrozap film solar filter, heavily cropped, November 4, 2015.
A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth’s magnetic field during the early hours of October 2, sparking a geomagnetic storm. In North America, auroras spilled across the Canadian border into more than a dozen northern-tier US states, including Northern Ohio. The CME left the sun on Sept. 30, propelled by an erupting magnetic filament, racing away from the Sun at 2 million MPH.
CAA members David Nuti and Christopher Christie observed the light show from Lake Erie’s southern shoreline and captured some images. Presented here is one we think is pretty spectacular!
Photo Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T3: ISO 800, 12 sec., f/3.5, 18mm, 12:41 AM, October 2, 2013.
CAA member David Nuti was on vacation in backwoods Canada recently. He did a little fishing and, at night, took full advantage of clear, truly dark skies to do a little stargazing. He did note, however, that his view of the stars was obscured at times by bright lights in the sky. No, it wasn’t light pollution in the sense with which we are all too familiar. Nuti’s view of the stars was hindered by the sky itself in the form of brilliant auroras or “Northern Lights!” Too much of a good thing, perhaps? He shared a couple of photographs with us of a display that took place around midnight, Aug. 13 – 14, 2013.
Photographic Notes: Nikon D5000, 18mm lens (27mm equiv.), top image – ISO 450, f/5.0, 30 sec.; bottom image – ISO 3200, f/5.0, 40 sec.
Actually, a pair of surprises gave night owl CAA member Christopher Christie a wonderful opportunity: a shot at the “northern lights.” A wonderful aurora spread across the Canadian border and descended into the United States as far south as Colorado and Nebraska. The aurora was caused by the unexpected arrival of an interplanetary shock wave on May 31st and that stormy night held the added surprise of clearing skies!
“While it was thunder storming I noticed on one of the web sites I watch that the Bz component of the interplanetary magnetic field tipped sharply south to around a minus 20,” wrote Christie. “So I was keeping an eye on some other sites and the weather, saw the rain was about to let up and since it looked like there would be a good chance of having Aurora if the skies cleared, I decided to give it a try. It was still drizzling when I left but when I got to my spot it had stopped. The skies were still pretty cloudy and I couldn’t really see anything but I took a few pictures anyway, just in case. I noticed this one weird spot that wasn’t moving but kind of getting bigger as the clouds started to break up a little. It was just a green blob, nothing special and no real movement, waves or spikes, but you could see it even with the naked eye. After about an hour the clouds moved back in and it went away so I went home to look through my pics and was happy, wasn’t much but how often do we get Aurora here.” End of round one!
Christie kept monitoring the conditions, however. “So it was about 3 AM and I noticed that the Bz was still way south and it looked like something could happen again and it looked like some clearing was moving in. So of course I had to go back out and I’m glad I did. It was still partly cloudy and the skies never cleared all the way, but it was a great show, all kinds of colors, green, red, purple and white with some waves and spikes. It lasted till almost 5 AM when the sun started to brighten up the horizon and the clouds took back over.”
The image above is one of several Christie made that night and we have enhanced it a bit for display here.
Exposure information: Canon EOS Rebel T3 — ISO 3200, f/3.5, 8 sec., 18mm; June 1, 2013 at 4:08 AM.