Dawn of the North
- www.kevin-palmer.com - Hunting for the aurora from the mid-latitudes can be a frustrating endeavor. For every night that I've clearly seen the northern lights, there are 2 more where I've gone out only to see the aurora quickly fade or clouds overtake the sky. But perfect nights like this one make it all worth it. After NOAA issued a geomagnetic storm warning on Wednesday night, I headed for the mountains. The aurora was obvious as soon as I stepped out of my car. But it was just a green glow without any structure or movement. At 12:30AM, the lights began to grow brighter. Pillars topped with purple and red suddenly rose up and moved rapidly back and forth. This is called a substorm. Charged particles in the solar wind causes pressure to build up against Earth's magnetic field. The magnetic field will suddenly 'snap' and the release of energy makes the aurora intensify. Substorms are unpredictable and often last only minutes. In this frame I caught a Lyrid meteor burning up above Steamboat Point.