Aurora Borealis

There’s been a huge solar flare and there’s a really good chance to see the northern lights tonight (after 1:30, when the moon sets). They’re saying on the news there’s a good chance of seeing it here (as far south as North Carolina), and maybe even farther south.

Just thought you’d like to know.

I heard about this earlier today (In IMHO, no less) and I am so excited! I think I’m far north enough that I stand a chance of seeing it. That is just the coolest thing.

Thanks for the tip! I’ve only seen the Northern Lights a few times; just unbelievably beatiful.

I’m crossing my fingers that it stays clear out tonight.


I’m in Virginia…excited to see it, i’ll tell ya if I do.

Tonight’s forecast for southeastern New England: Clouds. Can I say I’m a bit bent about that?

Question for you guys then: As an Aussie I’ve never seen the lights live (just missed them a few times in my travels sigh) but do they actually look the TV depictions we see? Or is that effects? How much of the sky does it take up?

If anyone could spare a few descriptive words it would be appreciated.

As an Aussie, dpr, I would suggest you try looking for the Aurora Australis–the southern lights; I would imagine they’re being expected to have a big showing, too.

I’ve seen the northern lights once, from a jet. They weren’t as bright as they could be, but they were still cool. It was a dim, pale green light, and it slowly moved through the sky like a lava lamp–two separate blobs of light come together, move up through the sky, then split back apart, that sort of thing.

I’ve seen some pretty spectacular footage of the lights, but I’ve always wondered if time lapse photography was involved.

I’ve seen them, and if what you’ve seen looks like dancing, waving, ephemeral sheets of green and purple light, then you know what they look like, whether they were sfx or not.

It’s cloudy here, so no chance. I’ve seen at least three kinds of northern lights.

First the classic as shown in the media, art, cartoons. It looks like a curtain with rainbow colours, a clearly defined rippled base (like curtains), a sort of streaky appearance like it’s a curtain made up of thousands of vertical lines. It can stretch from horizon to horizon across the north sky. It is constantly rippling and ripples will run the entire length of the curtain, sort of like the crowd doing a fast wave at a sporting event. Sometimes a fast ripple will roll very fast along the full length of the curtain with great colour changes. I’ve seen it on the prairies in winter and it is absolutely spectacular in a clear night sky full of stars.

Secondly, I’ve seen a clear night sky full of stars and, when you focus on any small area anywhere in the sky you see a sort of electric green coloured, constantly repeating, splashes or flashes. Sort of like a fireworks explosion but really just constant green flashes exploding sort of in a “straight at you” perspective. Six of us stood and watched this more subtle version.

The third type is the most common and I’ve seen it so often it’s just not interesting. It’s just a sort of yellow colour and it’s like pieces or patches of curtain scattered in the sky. It does the same rippling curtain effect but no colours, just a yellow. It’s kind of a washed out effect.

The Aurora Borealis can be captured quite well on film and I have read of at least one artist collecting photos. I hope there is a spectacular show tonight and I hope some lucky people see it.

I’ve seen them thrice, in three different forms: First, the whole sky changing colors, a uniform red to a uniform blue or green, with occasional white “winshield wipers” moving quickly across the sky.
Second, green amoebas, moving and shifting and occasionally disappearing and reappearing.
Third, curtains. It started as just a pale white band across the sky, then developed details, then colors (mostly greenish).
Also check a month or so from now; that’s when this same portion of the Sun will be facing us again, and repeat shows aren’t too rare.

There are a couple of groups willing to email you when interesting things are going to happen in the sky - from NOAA to hobby magazines.

See this:
In collaboration with key organizations of amateur and professional astronomers, SKY & TELESCOPE has established the AstroAlert e-mail news service to alert small-telescope users to significant happenings in the sky – those that involve especially rare events or require immediate follow-up observations worldwide. To find out more, visit

The solar flairs that could produce Northern Lights for most of the US are supposed to be part of a cycle - keep checking web links from the above site and you’ll find photos and other information. Good Stuff!

Didn’t see them all the time we lived in Seattle. Well, duh. Guess there weren’t any solar flares on those 2 days of clear sky. :slight_smile: (Seattleites can thank me later for preventing yet more people from moving there.)

But once, here in Iowa, the green sheets – awesome.

The latest solar alert says the likelihood is diminished that anything would be viewable in the middle latitudes, but there was still a slight possibility of some activity on June 10. Now I don’t know if they meant the morning of June 10, which is past, or the night of June 10. Whichever – it’s after the moon sets.

I probably won’t see them here though. Living in the city has its disadvantages even with a huge park just out back the city lights can be seen. (And I do mean huge we have wild animals living in the middle of the city… like deer and such)

I’ve seen them 3 times myself. Once when we lived in a small town Dad came home from work and he got us out of bed to see them. (It wasn’t too late) We stood out front watching the green lights dance across the stars.

The second time we saw them we were camping in Drumheller. (Well not in but nearby the city) We were camping with friends and me and Cora went for a shower when we came back they were dancing across the sky just over the badlands. That was a gorgeous sight believe me. I wish I could have gotten pics.

The last time I saw it was 2 (nearly 3) years ago. At summer camp we were at campfire singing. (Like we do every night) then someone looked up and indicated everyone else should as well and then everyone went silent cuz it looked like the lights were directly above us and made all sorts of images. (One even looked like an angel for a few moments) The lights continued for the rest of campfire. It was the neatest experience.

i’ve seen them many times - Al’s description is bang on.

the best show I ever saw was several years ago, when I went straight out from a movie theatre by a side exit, so I didn’t lose my night vision. Even though I was on the outskirts of a major city, which normally weakens the brightness, the northern half of the sky was ablaze with pink sheets of light.

they’re usually at their best in the winter, on the snow-covered prairies, at about -20 C. Very much an “oooh” event.

The clearest I ever the aurora borealis was driving at night, heading across eastern Colorado. I exited the highway and pulled over on a quiet side road. Then I just stretched across the hood of the car and watched in amazement.

It went on for at least an hour; the description earlier nailed it well, but the reality is just boggling. It was somewhere between sheet lightning and immense, backlit waves of chiffon floating across the entire sky. Since it was a very clear night, and far away from ground lights, I could still see the stars through some of the billows of light.

I remember the colors being subtle but clear; for some reason my memory insists on green and a sort of rose color.

Anyway, it was fabulous. I drove straight on through the night, buoyed by the high of it.

Thanks for calling up a great memory.


Yet another reason I am getting closer to packing my bags and moving to Alaska.

Standing on a cliff overlooking the snow covered Matanuska Valley, cold crisp mountain air, not a cloud in the sky, complete silence, watching the magnificant colors float across the sky. Beautiful!

As most of you know, I am in Alaska. The northern lights are truly an awesome sight to behold. I live in Eagle River and we see the show nearly every night that it is clear in the winter. However, in the summer, even if the conditions are perfect, we cannot see the lights unless we stay up really late because the sun is out until about midnight or later. I have really been fortunate to have seen almost all the forms of the Northern Lights - multicolor, sheets, curtains, and once - in Beluga - a form called the cauldron or mixing bowl, because it looks sorta like someone has poured luminous green syrup on the bottom of a transparent bowl inverted above your head! That time was the first I ever experienced the tradition of Native Alaskans howling at the lights. Supposedly, if you howl at the lights, they will change shape. I guess I had not consumed enough “Northern Lights Howling Juice”, 'cause I didn’t see any changes at all.

Have you ever heard them? Like giant bells pealing in the distance? Without hallucinogens? No?

maybe i should shut up

Dropzone: Actually, reports of tintinabulation accompianing the lights are fairly common and consistent. The jury’s still out as to whether it’s a physical effect or a psychological: There is defintely some sound associated with the Lights, but many doubt that it’d be loud enough to hear from the ground.

Personally, the only sound I’ve ever heard associated with an aurora are “oooh” and “ahhh” and “wow”, but then, I’ve never seen them by myself.