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About Me

Found 7 results

  1. Well, we were able to get a little sunshine today as a weak ridge of high pressure moved through the area. Unfortunately, the next weather system is hot on its heels and will bring clouds and rain back to Alaska through this week. Indications are right now that we may see some improvement in conditions Thursday evening and into Friday (Sep 10th), which may give us a shot to see some light activity over the weekend. If you're like me, you're ready for these clouds and all of the rain to move out and give us some clear skies! We will get them...eventually!
  2. For those of us in Alaska, this holiday weekend has been a bummer of sorts...at least, for those of us itching for the chance to see Lady Aurora. The clouds and rain will continue to stick around through the weekend with conditions beginning to improve around mid-day on Monday (Sep 6). Solar activity is projected to pick up a little bit around then too, with a stream of solar material projected to begin heading our way. There may be a chance to see some activity in the early morning hours of Tuesday, but it does not look hopeful for much the rest of the week as clouds and rain return with the next weather system and persist through next weekend. As always, the weather models can be wrong, so it is good to keep an eye on the forecast for any changes.
  3. We got a very nice treat on February 13, 2021, when Lady Aurora showed up! The Kp forecast for the day was 2, so there was no reason to believe we would really have a good show. I was working on creating a block for solar wind data here on the website and, while doing so, noticed that the numbers appeared to be trending positive for potential aurora activity. As I sat watching the values continue to improve, Bz going very negative; Bt climbing to above 10; density reaching 22; and the wind speed increasing to over 400, I had a feeling we were going to get a show! We just had to pray the values remained elevated...and, they did! I put out a message to the JBER Northern Lights Facebook group, a group of people affiliate with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson who admire the aurora, around 4pm Alaska time to let them know what I was seeing. There was an alert from SpaceWeatherLive.com earlier in the day about an Earth-facing coronal hole moving into position with activity expected to increase Sunday night into Monday morning, but there was nothing being discussed for Friday. However, the data just kept saying, "Lady Aurora is coming tonight!" So, I wanted to make everyone aware to keep an eye out for her. We did not get much activity before the main band of lights hit. Sometimes, when values are supportive of auroral activity, we will get a short show between 8pm and 10pm Alaska time. A lot of people hit the "early show" since it is more conducive to children and early morning work shifts. Last night, however, there was really nothing leading up to the 1am to 4am window of activity. She simply just put on one show and that was it. As we drove out to Big Lake, we could see the arc intensifying and I just kept praying, "please hold off until I get into position!" There was a bit of movement in the arc, but the majority of activity held off until right around 12:30am. The main portion of the lights tailed off around 2am with the arc re-intensifying around 4am for a short-lived burst of minor activity. All in all, it was a very good night of aurora chasing. I will certainly be keeping an eye on the data today to see if February 14 will start with another amazing display!
  4. Tonight and tomorrow (February 6-7, 2021), the Kp forecast is 4. This is based on the Earth-facing coronal hole which developed on the sun. They anticipate solar wind speeds to pick up and a stream of material to impact the near Earth environment. Right now, the speeds are average (in the 372 km/s range) and density is average as well (around 5 p/cm3). So, we'll keep an eye on those values throughout the day tomorrow to determine if tomorrow night looks like a good night to chase. The cloud forecast for tomorrow night looks very, very favorable; so, it looks like a good possibility of a long night ahead. I am still trying to determine exactly where we will set up tomorrow. Too many people hit the high-elevation and scenic spots when the aurora comes in. I don't need scenery, I just need lights! Right now, I am thinking we will probably roll our around midnight to 1:00am on the 7th. Keep your eyes peeled to the live chase page around that time to see if we are out. I will also be posting to Twitter as well. Feel free to join us virtually!
  5. Ronnie

    Aurora Watch

    The plan is to go aurora chasing again! We will be out from around 11:00pm to 3:00am Alaska Standard Time. Location is still TBD, but we have a special addition to this chase: GoPro live streaming! Check out the Twitch channel and follow us LIVE!
  6. There was an alert from SpaceWeatherLive.com tonight regarding a coronal hole. Apparently, there is an Earth-facing hole projected to increase the solar wind speed and particles headed our way. That said, they are forecasting a Kp value of 4 for February 7th. This means that between the night of the 6th and into the morning of the 7th, we could have some very good activity! We may continue to see some good displays up north and I am really hoping that the lights will be visible then. Depends on where you look for weather. Weather Underground has us partly cloudy and the National Weather Service says we will be mostly cloudy with snow. I guess we will see come Saturday night!
  7. Well, you can't say we didn't try! We went out to Hatcher Pass last night, about an hour and 15 minutes north of our house, and sat there from 10:00pm until roughly 1:30am this morning. We were very hopeful we would see some activity. The space weather sites were talking about geomagnetic storming, forecasts were showing Kp index values forecast to hit 4 and 5, and Mother Nature gave us a rare, cloud-free night. It seemed like a perfect combination of variables for a great night of watching the northern lights...and, nothing! I am trained in terrestrial weather forecasting, so this space stuff is somewhat new to me. I did spend a couple of years analyzing the sun at one of our solar observatories, but we did not really do much with the solar wind, Kp, etc. Thus, I am learning about all of this stuff during this, my first winter in Alaska. I have gathered that solar wind speeds have to be elevated, above 400 km/s, with a density of at least 10 cm3, and a Bz in the negative. Last night, wind speeds were around 325 km/s, density was up just around 10 cm3 or slightly above, and the Bz was bouncing up and down. It wasn't great data, but the hope was there. Some started to see some faint lights after about 3:00am and I watched Facebook, in anticipation, until about 3:30am before I called it quits. It just wasn't meant to be. However, we did get some good out of it! I tested the latest iteration of my All-Sky camera. We successfully tested the off-network connection of the camera to my iPhone. This was a critical piece because the webserver for the camera can be utilized to view the latest live photo and make adjustments as necessary. Additionally, we tested that there is enough power from our vehicle's USB ports to power the camera while it sits on top of the roof. Thus, we were able to keep an eye on the sky from the warmth of the car and adjust exposure, gain, and other variables to see what worked best. In the end, it was a good trial run, even if Lady Aurora refused to put on a show! We may head out again tonight, but I am going to keep an eye on the cloud conditions. We have a pretty mature low-pressure system and ridge battling it out just over far western Alaska, so I am crossing my fingers that Mother Nature gives us one more shot at seeing some good activity from Lady Aurora this week. We'll see!
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