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Earth Space Science

Aurora Borealis Likely To Be Visible In Southern NY and PA Tonight 67

New submitter chromaexcursion writes "Several news source are reporting the likelihood of an impressive show of the Aurora Borealis visible as far south as Washington D.C. this evening. Accuweather explains: 'On the Kp index, the flare has been categorized at 6 to 8. This is a scale for measuring the intensity of a a geomagnetic storm. The 6 to 8 rating means that the effects of the radiation will have a greater reach. ... The radiation from such a flare may cause radio wave disturbances to electronics such as cell phones, GPS and radios, causing services to occasionally cut in and out. While traveling slower than was originally anticipated, the flare effects are moving towards Earth at 1000 km per second. ... The lights are currently estimated for 8 p.m. EDT Saturday arrival, with a possible deviation of up to seven hours.' Check the map; if you're in a fair-to-good zone, head out after sunset to see the show."
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Aurora Borealis Likely To Be Visible In Southern NY and PA Tonight

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  • Nada in NYC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shompol ( 1690084 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @08:38PM (#43443631)
    Just checked from the roof of a 22 story bulding, the view North is over East River, but nothing to be seen there. I guess New York is not famous for astronomy discoveres with all the smog and lights.
    • by C0R1D4N ( 970153 )
      I can not see anything from the NJ pine barrens, but a seven hour deviation is the entirety of night this time of year.
    • The best source for aurora visibility information is a forecast page run by the NOAA, but it's crushed under the load already, so I won't link it here. The second-best source is probably AccuWeather Astronomy's Facebook page [] or something like that. Anyway. Visibility hasn't even reached Maine yet.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just drove out into the farmland with no lights. Nothing.

    • This website [] will send you emails when Aurora are likely - it's based in Edmonton so it works best for northerly locations with the same magnetic latitude but when the storm hits you should see the chance for Auroras spike in Edmonton as well - and you can sign up for an email if you don't want to watch the site.
  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @08:46PM (#43443669)

    It's going to have to been pretty bright to compete with the skyglow present all along the Northeast metropolitan area. I haven't seen the Milky Way in years; the last time it was visible in my neighborhood was about ten years ago, during a region-wide blackout.

  • by green1 ( 322787 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @08:46PM (#43443677)

    Unfortunately I get to stare at a whiteout blizzard instead... Too bad, last year had a wonderful night watching the northern lights with my wife from our hot tub (best way to do so!)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rmdingler ( 1955220 )
      There is nothing wrong with a wonderful night including you and your wife in a hot tub, but as to the "best way" we'll agree to disagree. Even in an allegedly monogamous relationship, the very best way is with the tub full of women who keep telling your wife how lucky she is to have you.
      • Extra women are more trouble than they're worth. They smile, but they always extract something in the end.
        • by cffrost ( 885375 )

          Extra women are more trouble than they're worth. They smile, but they always extract something in the end.

          Yes, our precious bodily fluids.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Which is why I only drink distilled water and pure grain alcohol.

  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @08:58PM (#43443709)
    When I was a kid growing up in Northern Minnesota, we would see the lights often enough. Then there was a period from the mid-to-late 80s up until the mid-2000s I suppose that there were none to be seen.

    Within the last couple years, though, they're back with increasing frequency. I've been able to catch them at least twice each year for the last two years from Northern Wisconsin. And two years ago (I think), I had a friend that lives in Ohio that was able to clearly see them.

    • I went to college in Houghton, MI (way up north) and on the night of March 13th, 1989 [] we were walking back to our dorm from a parking lot and the auroras were so insane I couldn't even believe what I was seeing. They covered the entire northern half of the sky, with greens, reds, and violets rippling through them. I've never seen anything like it before or since but I consider myself very lucky to have been coming back from the bar at that particular time on that particular night. I'm still in Michigan,
      • by mikael ( 484 )

        Yes, we saw that in Scotland just after midnight - a giant + shape reddish/greenish in the sky, right opposite where the sun wound be. The same sort of shape you'd get from doing fluid motion simulations of a drain. Every now and again a huge sheet of green light would just shoot past from North to South, filling the entire sky.

  • No one else has yet chimed in with the obligatory aurora boreanaz. []

  • Looking outside will do nothing for you, Give NOAA space weather a try! When a geomagnetic storm is in progress keep an eye out on the auroral oval and how far it reaches down in the picure. If your sky area is clear and the storm is not strong the lights can look like faint clouds that move slowly. (Keep an eye on these as they can break out and get stronger) Most people will want to use a camera with a long exposure setting (bulb mode) to see them.
    • by snooo53 ( 663796 )

      As someone who was fortunate enough to see the northern lights in the lower 48 last year, this is good advice. Keep your eye on the forecast; unless you're far up north, good opportunities don't come along too often. Find a dark spot in the country with a good view, and be patient since they do ebb and flow. Although it can vary based on the space weather, your best chance is usually around midnight, and you can get frequent updates here []

      It took me a couple tries to

  • I can't see squat up there from where I live. My cell phone service at home ordinarily oscillates between terrible and inexistent, so I can't observe an effect from it on that either.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    POES Auroral Activity (Refreshes every 5 minutes) []
    Fancy OVATION forecast (refreshes every 30 secs) []

    There's apparently some media outlets doing facebook/twitter updates too, but A) I don't do either one and B) They're a lot less likely to contain actual information than the above. :)
    • Thanks for the links.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      At least for the first on, the POES plot, the website will refresh every five minutes, but the information might not. The plot is based on satellite measurements, and the time between satellite fly overs can be anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour, plus some of the fly overs don't get good information. It is still a great resource, but be aware it can easily be out of date if conditions are changing fast.
  • Chasing Unicorns (Score:5, Informative)

    by clyde_cadiddlehopper ( 1052112 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:33PM (#43444077)
    The first impact of the CME has hit and the boulder Kp is hovering around 3. Watch it here [].and here []. Here in southern Minnesota, Kp has to hit 6 before we see anything. 5 up on the Canadian border. Good luck spotting those unicorns!
    • by jovius ( 974690 ) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:36AM (#43444703)

      Persistent positive charge of the solar wind's magnetic field is preventing the storm to happen, even though conditions otherwise are favorable. Should the oncoming particles carry a negative charge things could change dramatically. The parameter is called Bz in this plot from the ACE satellite between Earth and Sun: [] The current value is also presented in the left sidebar of []

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Bz is not the charge, it is the strength of the magnetic field in the z direction (parallel to the earths rotation axis more or less). when it is positive it is reinforcing the earths field and not as many particles get in, when it is negative it is opposite the earth's field which weakens it and more stuff gets in to cause bigger displays.

  • Nuttin.
  • It isn't moving south nearly as far as originally predicted/hoped.
  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @12:20AM (#43444391) Homepage Journal

    Hitchhiked a ride in Alaska; we were as outback as you can get
    when the driver hit the brakes and pulled to the side of the road.
    Scary a$$ stuff when you hitching a ride, but the driver saw the lights.

    Pitch black, and not a sound could be heard as we were in the middle of nowhere.
    We got out and watched them for awhile; they were like high speed clouds, rushing over us to swirl,
    disappear, and repeat, no color these were just white, thus the cloud reference.

    But the three of us can say we've heard the Northern Lights.
    If you waited for it you could hear them, very subtle but very neat.

    This was before public Internet and hard for others to accept, but now you can
    find (google) many others who have heard them as well.

    • I'll be interested to see some youtube uploads in the next few days, but the quality of budget cameras for low-light captures is atrocious. Almost every sky picture that is not captured by a telescope was taken on DSLRs with tripods and exposure tricks. It seems the star-tracking mandatory for telescopes is completely ignored on Flickr and google image results. I cannot believe the Hubble et al seem to lack pictures of the the Milky way from the sky, where they can be horizon free, devoid of light pollution

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        I'm not sure how much star tracking would help with aurora - the images change over time so you'd probably just get a photo of some stars over a colored background that lacks most of the features of an aurora. For short-duration photos that would capture the essence of the aurora star tracking is probably not necessary.

        As far as the milky way goes, I'm surprised somebody hasn't taken a photo from the ISS or such. The hubble probably wouldn't generate a terribly impressive photo - the field of view is way

  • Aurora Borealis? In your kitchen?!

  • Booking a ticket to Hobart if the Aurora Australis is going to light up like this [] again.

  • The CME happened on Thursday, and the story only comes on the afternoon of the very night of the visibility of the event?

    Timing fail. I'm not blaming slashdot for this one specifically, since the linked story itself only came out on Saturday as well, but really, it would have been nice to know about it 24 hours sooner.

  • I give it 48 hours before some ignoramus on a morning TV talk show blames it thusly.

  • Better get in your time machine, 'cause the AccuWeather article talking about "tonight" is from April 13.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"