Aurora Borealis – February 19-21, 2021

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Category: Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis – February 19-21, 2021
Aurora shining with the moon – Fairbanks, Alaska | Purchase Print

The far northern and southern hemispheres have been treated well by the northern lights in late February this year. Earth has entered a high-speed solar wind stream emanating from a coronal hole on the Sun. For the past few days, the solar wind speed has been faster than average, about 500-600 kilometers per second. When this fast and quickly changing magnetic material strikes the Earth’s magnetosphere, it can cause a geomagnetic storm. Charged particles that were previously trapped in the Earth’s Van Allen Belts rain down onto our atmosphere, causing the aurora. If you want more detail, check out my article on what causes the aurora.

The geomagnetic storm forecast looks good for the next 24 hours at high latitudes and even some mid-latitudes. Sunday night, the aurora was seen in southern Canada. When the northern lights are out, the southern lights mirror them, and the aurora australis was seen in New Zealand the last couple of nights.

Aurora over forest on February 20, 2021 | Purchase Print

The probability of geomagnetic storms decreases over the next 48 hours as the Earth exits the fast solar wind. However, yesterday a small CME erupted from a filament on the Sun. It doesn’t look exactly Earth-directed, but we may get a glancing blow from it in a couple of days.

Northern lights shimmering over the trees | Purchase Print

We’ve had two good nights in a row. On the evening of the 19th, the aurora borealis came out early, and the oval pretty quickly moved south. It was a bit cloudy in Fairbanks, so the air was hazy. But, they were still beautiful!

Auroral band through the haze | Purchase Print

In other news, I’ve decided to revive my aurora borealis blog here. I used to write and share photos quite a bit but stopped about three years ago. But it was fun, it kept me active, and it kept me outside shooting. We’ve got about another month and a half left of darkness before the midnight sun takes over.

It’s been fun shooting in the cold again! While we haven’t been having the extreme temperatures as we would get 6-10 years ago, it did drop to -30 °F on Friday night and -20 °F last night. My hands got a bit cold since I didn’t wear my warm mittens, but luckily I was at the house, so it didn’t take long to warm them up.

It looks like we have more snow and warmer temperatures moving in this week. I hope the clouds hold off for one more night. The camera batteries are charging now, and I might take a nap this afternoon.

Northern lights competing with the moonlight | Purchase Print
Our teeny house under the aurora
A bit of pink aurora shining through the trees | Purchase Print

Photo Gallery From February 19, 2021

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Photo Gallery From February 20, 2021

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