On Monday, June 22, 2015 a number of coronal mass ejection (CME) events impacted Earth and, our plots of solar wind power showed a very high likelihood for strong aurora activity on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. This solar material included a very strong magnetic field whose orientation was very favorable for the solar wind power to connect into Earth’s magnetosphere and enhance the aurora. This happened and citizen scientists caught all the action.
According to Aurorasaurus observations, people started reported positive sightings at 5pm EDT in the UK on Monday. While we are still processing the information, our team counts that citizen scientists shared at least 50 real-time aurora observations through Aurorasaurus. Below is a gif showing the number of reports/verified sightings worldwide at hourly intervals from 3pm ET on June 22nd to 6am ET on June 23rd. The graphic shows that highest number of citizen science reports over the northern US occurred around 12am and 1am ET on June 23rd.
Above: This time lapse is made from images taken from aurorasaurus.org at 30 minute intervals, from June 22 – June 23. It shows when and where people were reporting sightings (or non-sightings) to the site and tweeting about the aurora. Positive sightings can be seen as green plus signs and negative sightings can be seen as red minus signs. The blue twitter bird symbol shows twitter reports that have been verified by our users.
But that’s not all! We have been hit by the arrival of yet another CME on June 24th and while we do not know how large the effect may be on the already disturbed magnetosphere, the potential remains high for more widespread aurora.
What can you do?
1. Help verify tweets even after the aurora occurrence so that we can thoroughly document when and where people are seeing aurora in this large, rare event. You can select past times (best times are from 6/22-23/15) and click on tweets to see and vote on them. We strongly encourage you to check out our quiz which will help you verify tricky tweets and find the real-time tweets.
2. Sign up for an alert and tell your friends.
3. Wait for darkness and think about where you would have a northern view with low light pollution.
We are excited for the next few days of potential auroral activity and hope to get more citizen science reports and help verifying tweets! For the Saint Patrick’s Day storm, Aurorasaurus gathered over 35,000 aurora-related tweets and reports, which was fantastic and helped contribute to our paper in Astronomy and Geophysics. These observations have also been analyzed and published in Geophysical Research Letters, numerous presentations, and papers under review for the journal of Space Weather. We are finding that people can see the aurora at lower latitudes than most auroral models would predict so we are asking for the public’s help to help us improve our models during these rare, large events!
Thank you for all of your hard work so far! We’re excited to see what reports we receive over the next few days as we potentially see more aurora activity!
You can sign up at www.aurorasaurus.org for an account and can receive alerts when people are confirming aurora sightings in your area…this could be as soon as Wednesday night!