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Space Science

Aurora Season Begins 16

Posted by timothy
from the brightness-at-night dept.
MagnetarJones writes "Northern autumn began today at 55 minutes past midnight EDT (Sept. 23rd at 0455 UT), which means 'aurora season' is officially underway. Scientists aren't certain of all the reasons why, but there are more geomagnetic storms during autumn than other times of year. Already this month three such storms have triggered auroras visible as far south as the Carolinas in the United States. Some were so bright they cast shadows!"
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Aurora Season Begins

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  • If humanity keeps on polluting like we do, pretty soon we won't even be able to see the auroras. People, please lobby your congresspeople to sign the Kyoto accord before it's too late!
    • And what will Kyoto do to preserve visibility of auroras? Carbon dioxide is optically transparent, and Kyoto isn't concerned with reductions of any other emissions.
    • Kyoto has much less to do with reducing pollution than it does with punishing success and rewarding failure, to assuage socialistic "liberal" guilt.

    • If you want to see Aurora - and want your children to see aurora, visit the website for the International Dark Sky Assocation [darksky.org] and educate yourself and your friends about light pollution. Most people don't see them these days because glare and light pollution from lousy outdoor lighting blocks the view.

      And better yet, join IDA, even if you can't be active, your membership helps.

      Urge your local leaders to use full cut off, non-glaring outdoor lighting. Local action is VERY effective with dealing with light pollution.

      Futhermore, when you put a sheild on a light and direct the light downwards, you can use a less powerful lamp and save both energy and money.

      Oh, and by the way, that means less emmissions. Which means YOU can have an effect - and make MUCH more of a difference then just writing your Congress critter.

      Finally, if you really want to see aurora, get outside more often. You won't see them from in front of your CRT. They sometimes only last a few minutes, so don't depend on Email to alert you.

  • Thanks for the heads-up!

    Seeing the aurora for the first time is one of my happy thoughts.
  • Is there a best time of night to look for them? I have never seen them either, and have always wanted to.
    • you can google for some sites that have an aurora forecast... It is like a normal weather thing, but for the northen lights. Sometimes you can see them from northern california! have fun.
    • Best time to look (Score:4, Informative)

      by minesweeper (580162) on Monday September 23, 2002 @07:14PM (#4315989) Homepage
      I've never seen them myself either, but I'd love to. According to this page [odysseymagazine.com],
      The best time to look for an aurora on any given night, unfortunately, is toward the middle of the night and into the morning (If you're an early riser that's okay!). It's always best to look for a weak green glow low in the northern sky. But when big disturbances occur, the aurora can be seen much earlier in the evening and much higher in the sky. If a bright display occurs early in the evening, there is a good chance that another display will follow a couple of hours later. Its colors can vary from green to red, and you can see much shimmering.
      You can also keep tabs on SPACE.com's 3-day Aurora Forecast [space.com] and keep an eye on SpaceWeather.com [spaceweather.com].
  • by ClintJCL (264898) <clintjcl+slashdot.gmail@com> on Monday September 23, 2002 @07:17PM (#4316012) Homepage Journal
    For 'northern lights' sightings?

    I never go outside. It would be nice if somethign would instant message me saying "Hey, look at the sky, it's cool right now".

    Someone (not me) should set up a site that finds local sightings like that (northern lights, comets, meteor showers, whatever) and sends them out to other local people (ie use zipcode data to IM everyone in a 50 mile radius).

    Surely there is a site like this already? GIMME URL.

    • Try signing up for AstroAlert at http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/proamcollab/a stroalert/article_332_1.asp. They send out email when there is solar activity that may trigger an aurora (usually 24-48 hrs in adavnce of the possible aurora). The cover best viewing times, and apr southern limit of the viewing. Great for people who don't live in Florida like I do.

      Sightings of Aurora should go to http://solar.spacew.com/www/auroras.html
  • Email Aurora alerts (Score:4, Informative)

    by bmasel (129946) <bmasel.tds@net> on Monday September 23, 2002 @07:48PM (#4316200) Journal
    Sign up here.

    http://angwin.csl.uiuc.edu/~haunma/aurora/
  • by dpilot (134227) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:54PM (#4316574) Homepage Journal
    We had a spectacular aurora display, visible even with the street lights. Reds, greens, even some blue and yellow, with both fast and slow flickering. It was only between 9:00 and 9:30, so we told several neighbors, and were all standing in the (dead end) street watching.

    I'm glad that especially the kids got to see it, since they'd never had the chance, before.
  • Every Aurora season, I shoot at a few, but they never succumb. Do I need a bigger gun?

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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