Round up of UK aurora 01-02 Sept

In this first, of what will hopefully be a regular occurence, we are going to “round up” the auroral activity witnessed from the UK last night (01-02 Sept). Below, we’ve collected some info on the auroral display, such as what caused it and where it was seen from. Enjoy!

AuroraWatch UK alert status

Through the night of 01-02 Sept we reached amber alert status, indicating that an aurora might possibly be visible from across the UK. Activity first started to increase around 1900UT (8pm BST) with AW UK issuing a yellow alert. Activity remained elevated until 0600UT (7am BST).

Geomagnetic disturbance measured by AW UK on 01-02 Sept.

Geomagnetic disturbance measured by AW UK on 01-02 Sept.

Solar Wind data

The period of elevated geomagnetic activity (1900 – 0600UT) is shown by the two red dashed lines. Data provided by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

In the top panel of the chart below we can see that the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) in the solar wind becomes quite southward. This is shown by the negative (minus) values for Bz (north-south component). Southward (or negative Bz) values are good for aurora hunting as it allows the solar wind to transfer energy into the earth’s magnetic field which, in turn, drives the aurora.

In the fourth panel we can see that the solar wind velocity (speed), shown in purple, is steadily increasing and reaches around 700 kilometers per second (that’s around 1.5 MILLION miles per hour). The faster the solar wind, the more energy it has, and the more energy it can transfer into the aurora.

Solar wind data recorded by NOAA's DSCOVR mission. Data provided by NOAA's SWPC.

Solar wind data recorded by NOAA’s DSCOVR mission. Data provided by NOAA’s SWPC.

These conditions, which were great for aurora hunting, were the result of a high speed stream of solar wind generated by a coronal hole on the Sun.

UK sightings

Despite there being quite a lot of cloud cover across the whole of the UK, reports of aurora sightings came in to us here at AuroraWatch UK. A selection below:





And a few more on Facebook (we can’t embed them here for now, so click on the comments in the status below):

In the future, if you do happen to spot the aurora – please do let us know (either through Facebook, Twitter or Flickr)! If you captured something, but you’re not sure if it’s an aurora, take a look at these useful tips and always feel free to ask us 🙂

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  1. Pingback: Coronal hole drives recent aurora | AuroraWatch UK

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