Midnight In The Desert — Aurora Borealis

'Hole' in the Sun Spawns Powerful Solar Wind; Could Amp Up Auroras

Posted by K R on

'Hole' in the Sun Spawns Powerful Solar Wind; Could Amp Up Auroras

A massive "hole" on the surface of the sun has unleashed a strong solar wind that scientists say may amp up the northern lights in some areas of the U.S. and could disrupt satellite communications over the next few days. Data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory revealed a vast region where the sun's magnetic field has opened up, creating a gap in the sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona. This region, also known as a coronal hole, allows charged particles to escape and flow toward Earth in an increased solar wind. As a result, the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center...

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Not Aliens: Brilliant Light Pillars Appear Over Canada

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Not Aliens: Brilliant Light Pillars Appear Over Canada

Despite appearances, aliens have not descended upon a snowy scape in Ontario, Canada. Rather, an Earthly phenomenon is the cause of a ring of brilliant shafts of pastel-colored lights, captured in the wee hours of the morning by Timmy Joe Elzinga using his smartphone camera. It was 1:30 a.m. local time in northern Ontario on Jan. 6 when Elzinga spotted the phenomenon. Click to Enlarge "When I first saw these light beams shooting through the sky from my bathroom window, I was sure they were the northern lights," Elzinga told Live Science in an email. "I was able to capture...

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Aurora Alert! Watch Now for Northern Lights

Posted by K R on

Aurora Alert! Watch Now for Northern Lights

Sky watchers with clear skies across Canada, the northern United States, and other northern latitude countries should be on the lookout tonight for possible flare-ups of the aurora borealis. The celebrated northern lights already put on a great show late Tuesday night for folks from Alberta to Ontario and in European countries such as Estonia, Denmark, and Germany. Earth’s bubble-like magnetic field was hit so strongly by charged solar particles that auroras were even seen farther south than normal, in places like Maine, Minnesota, and Wyoming. Now, forecasters are predicting at least a 55 percent chance of a repeat performance,...

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Auroras Make Weird Noises, and Now We Know Why

Posted by K R on

Auroras Make Weird Noises, and Now We Know Why

Arctic wilderness tales often wax poetic about dazzling displays of northern lights painting the skies. But for at least the past century, some of those stories have also mentioned eerie noises associated with especially powerful auroras. Witnesses say the sounds are comparable to radio static, like a faint crackling, light rustling, or hissing heard for a few minutes during a strong display. While the weird sounds were long considered folklore, Finnish scientists have not only shown that they really happen, but now the team thinks they know why. The answer can be traced to charged particles trapped in a layer...

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Hubble Captures Jupiter's Brilliant Aurora

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Hubble Captures Jupiter's Brilliant Aurora

Days before the Juno spacecraft is scheduled to arrive, astronomers have captured an enormous aurora at the north pole of Jupiter. The imagery, released this week, was taken back on May 19 using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope as part of a program to study how solar wind affects auroras on Jupiter. The video above was created by pairing many far-ultraviolet images from Hubble with a full-color disk of Jupiter that was photographed at a different time. Like on Earth, an aurora is produced when highly charged particles interact with the atmosphere. For Earthlings, the light show begins with our incredibly...

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