Reader Pics: CME Spawns Awe-Inspiring Bright Red Aurorae

by Nancy Atkinson on October 25, 2011

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Bright red aurora seen in Wisconsin. Credit: Randy Halverson and River Halverson, Dakotalapse.com

Now updated with more images and video! Reports of spectacular aurora are coming in! A CME hit Earth’s magnetic field on Oct. 24, 2011 at about 1800 UT (02:00 pm EDT), spawning some stunning red sky shows. All-red aurorae are fairly rare, and are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles, being excited by collisions from charged particles released from the Sun.

Above is the view by Randy Halverson, of Dakotalapse.com fame, whose work we feature often on UT. He’s not in his usual location of South Dakota, but is in Wisconsin, along with his son River Halverson. Randy said via Twitter that the brightest aurora he saw was about 8:25 or so local time (CDT).

Oct. 24, 2011 aurora seen in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Credit: John Chumack

John Chumack is another astrophotographer whose work we feature often. Here’s one of his shots of the Aurora Borealis on 10-24-2011 from John Bryan State Park, near Yellow Springs, Ohio. “30 second exposure, ISO 400, 8mm fisheye lens,” John says. See more from him on his website, Galactic Images (and he uploads frequently to our Flickr group, too!)

Taken from a driveway in northern Ohio on October 24, 2011. Credit: Joe Lloyd

Joe Lloyd from northern Ohio took this image from his driveway!

Aurora in Wichita, Kansas USA. Credit: Jim Hammer via Flickr.

Aurora reaching fairly far south in Kansas!

Below is a video from East Martin, Michigan posted on You Tube:

Aurora in Wisconsin. Credit: River Halverson and Randy Halverson from Dakotalapse

Another from Randy Halverson.

Image from the all-sky AuroraMax camera in Yellowknife, Ontario. http://twitpic.com/75owna

This is an image from the AuroraMax all-sky camera located in Yellowknife, Ontario Canada. If you can’t see aurora where you are located, you can always check out the live video every night from AuroraMax,

Here’s the event on the Sun that started it all, the coronal mass ejection (CME) that caused aurora. The SOlar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured this “coronograph” – so-called because the images block the Sun, and only show the Sun’s atmosphere, or corona.

You can see more on Universe Today’s Flickr Group. Upload your images, and we may feature them!

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

petr October 25, 2011 at 7:02 AM

I got my first ever ‘red alert’ email from aurorawatch, but sadly it was cloudy. Damn clouds.

Anonymous October 25, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Apparently, it was visible in NC. I missed it, but I wasn’t looking for it. Maybe we’ll get another chance tonight.

Andrew Martens October 26, 2011 at 2:07 AM

Lovely pictures! However, Yellowknife is actually in the Northwest Territories in Canada – not Ontario.

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE October 26, 2011 at 3:22 AM

All-red aurorae are fairly rare, and are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles, being excited by collisions from charged particles released from the Sun.

Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that — nitrogen is also involved: Auroral mechanism.

Anonymous November 2, 2011 at 6:56 AM

hgjh

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