Chances of an aurora were good on the 1st March when a coronal hole was forecast to emit a fast stream of charged particles towards the Earth. And sure enough it didn’t disappoint, giving sightings across Scotland and northern England.
This turned out to be the only amber level warning issued by Aurorawatch UK in the first two months of 2017. And unfortunately this will be the pattern of auroral activity over the next five years or so as I described in a recent post. During the solar ‘minimum’, auroral activity is much more likely to be sparked by coronal holes – holes in the sun’s atmosphere that allow flares of gases and charged particles to escape – rather than increased solar activity due to sunspots.
I was out last Wednesday evening and so wasn’t able to look for the aurora until late. But driving north I saw a tell-tale milky-grey band low in the sky and sure enough, a quick photo out of an upstairs window once I got home revealed a nice green arc with faint pillars reaching upwards. I grabbed a coat and headed out to a good north-facing roadside just near home.
It turned out that I’d missed the best of the aurora earlier in the evening – the lights had been dancing for a short 15 minute period – and so by the time I got out at about 10.45pm the arc gradually faded. This photo was the best I got, with some pillars just faintly visible. Had it not been midweek I might have been tempted to stay out longer (for the next ‘wave’ of the lights came back out just after midnight) and so it was just a brief trip for me.
Did you manage to see the lights this week ?