No Aurora For You

Aurora Australis on Antarctica

No aurora tonight. That wasn’t a surprise. For the past few days I told anyone who’d listen these are forecast a lot more than they happen!

It is a very unusual case for Connecticut to see aurora borealis. It does happen. Not often.

Earlier this week the Sun ‘belched’ a coronal mass ejection in our general direction. We see these happen at the speed-of-light. The actual effects of the CME takes three to four days to get here. That’s around a million miles per hour–much, much slower than light!

We know CMEs produce low latitude aurora. We just don’t know which CMEs! There is little skill in that regard.

The good news is even without predictions, the next big aurora will be the first of the social media age! I suspect most of us will know in an instant.

I’ve seen a few weak auroras and one very strong one. It was August 4, 1972. I was in North Olmsted, OH working as a disk jockey on 1220 WGAR, Cleveland.

My friend Joel, who’s in Detroit now, but was working at KDKA Pittsburgh back then, was visiting.

We stood in the parking lot of the two and a half story garden apartment building I lived in and looked north over the rooftop. The sky was shimmering with a fluorescence that formed curtains.

It’s difficult to explain if you haven’t seen it, but it took my breath away. It also scared me, though I knew it was harmless. It was that powerful a presence in the nighttime sky, unlike anything I’d seen before or since.

Someday I’d like to go to Iceland or Alaska in the early spring, before those summer days when the sky never really gets dark. I’m told the aurora borealis is common on clear nights. Clicky and I would like to document it.

Until then I’ll have to keep the memory of North Olmsted.

5 thoughts on “No Aurora For You”

  1. One night when we were young (1960s) my father brought everyone in to my sister and my room to watch the aurora borealis. We all crowded around one window and oohed and aahed. Except me – I continued sleeping (as I was forever reminded!). Hopefully I will see them again some night.

  2. I was stationed in Iceland in the navy for a year and a half around 1970. Auroras were common there.

    I even saw one or two here in Enfield over the years. You could see it best looking NE toward Stafford or Hampden MA even though the prison and the city of Springfield light up the night sky.

  3. I grew up in Central Maine in a wooded area with little light pollution, so any time the aurora was visible at that latitude, we had a good shot at seeing it. My dad would wake me up whenever he noticed it and we’d go outside and look. I remember this happening at least 5 times during my childhood. It’s an incredible experience.

  4. My mom grew up in northern New Hampshire and she said she’d seen Northern Lights several times as a kid. She said they were incredible. I’ve seen pictures and videos of them but never saw them ‘live’.
    I wish ‘they’ wouldn’t predict things that aren’t likely to happen.

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