April 22, 2021 – Aurora Borealis

Spring light at midnight on April 22, 2021 in Fairbanks, Alaska
Midnight view through the forest on April 22, 2021

There are only two more days before the darkest it gets in Fairbanks is nautical twilight, when only the brightest stars are visible and the Sun dips no more the 12 degrees below the horizon. The above photo was taken at 12:03 am on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The spring light is beginning to take over the night. Yet, April this year seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. At least, as far as the aurora borealis is concerned.

It’s not over yet!

Aurora borealis in the twilight. April 22, 2021 - Fairbanks, Alaska
The same view one and a half hours later. The aurora borealis out while there is still light on the northern horizon! | Purchase Print

The show was short-lived and nowhere near the spectacular sights we saw on the night of April 17-18, but it was momentarily quite beautiful in the bluish-black sky.

Northern lights dancing overhead

Even though the night sky is continually getting lighter, there’s still good hope for more aurora before the end of the season. At 04:35 UTC on April 22, 2021, a solar flare peaked and an associated (possibly earth directed) CME was detected from sunspot AR 2816. The event caused a brief radio blackout over southeast Asia. It is thought that the shock will arrive at Earth mid-day (Alaska time) on April 24 or 25. This could possibly give rise to a geomagnetic storm and more good aurora on last night of astronomical twilight we have until August!

***Update – April 23, 2021***
NOAA forecasters are predicting that a component of this event was Earth-directed and that it could arrive at Earth early to mid April 25 (UTC), which could be late evening to early morning Alaska Time on Saturday, April 24. It may cause a moderate G2 geomagnetic storm and potentially spark auroras that could be seen at high and mid-latitudes. If you have clear skies in the northern lower 48 states, you may want to keep watch!

Video of AR2815 solar flare.
You can also see AR2817 crackling on the northeast limb.
NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory – AIA 131

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Stay tuned and keep your eyes on the sky if you are in the northern hemisphere!

Auroral band over the trees | Purchase Print

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