Archive for January, 2012

Finding the aurora borealis

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

[by Teresa] This week Fritz happens to be in the right place at the right time: above the Arctic Circle with clear skies under some of the largest solar storms in years. Living north of 60 we’ve seen many aurora, but it sounds like yesterday’s auroral show in northern Norway was something special. His email home says it best:

(January 22)… M3 class magnetic storm. I’m alone along the road to the small fishing village of Tromvik. It’s perfectly clear, calm, maybe -3° C. I’m at the end of a fjord surrounded by snow-covered peaks and it’s a completely magic evening with brilliant stars and aurora are going off everywhere, twisting and rippling, light green and pinks, breathtaking. Then super-strong winds hit going north, buffeting me and the cameras, one tripod without a camera blows over (are winds associated with strong aurora events?!). For awhile I feel like I am standing right on the very edge of the earth looking into space. It’s awe-inspiringly beautiful, exhilarating. I feel almost frighteningly exposed. This was considered an M3 class event, imagine what an X-class event must be like?

It looks like he won’t have to wait long to find out. Within hours of yesterday’s peak, space weather forecasters warned of a massive solar flare due to arrive later today (Jan. 24). Fritz reports he’s eagerly awaiting this next event, which is reportedly the biggest solar radiation storm in seven years. Hopefully the clouds stay away!