March 24, 2024 – Keeping a Watchful Eye on the Aurora

Aurora Blog

The statistical aurora forecast for the next two nights as of March 24, 2024 at 9:30 am. Check the current forecast at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center page here.

The next couple of nights might be good times to watch the sky. On March 23, a strong X1.1 flare from 2 sunspots released an associated coronal mass ejection (CME) directed toward Earth. As of 1437 UTC (6:37 am Alaska time), this CME has already sparked a G4-class geomagnetic storm.

Last night in Fairbanks, the aurora was visible through the clouds most of the night, but it was faint to the eye and didn’t compete well with the bright moon. On the tail of this CME is the fast solar wind from a coronal hole. Fast solar wind but relatively slow compared to the CME, which jumped to approximately 800 km/s (or a meager 1.8 million MPH) at the arrival of the CME.

Data from ACE/SWEPAM showing jumps in solar wind density, speed, and temp with the arrival of the CME (Ace Real-Time Solar Wind on NOAA SWPC)

With the forecasted Kp-Index of 5-6 over the next couple of nights, it should be possible to see the aurora at high to mid-latitudes (Alaska, most of Canada, the northernmost United States, Northern Europe, and Asia, as well as low latitudes like New Zealand).

If you want to keep tabs on where the aurora is being spotted in real-time, I highly recommend joining the Aurora Borealis Notifications Group on Facebook or the associated Aurora Notify page. If you are data-driven, the NOAA SWPC page has all the current data associated with the Sun and geomagnetic interactions, but I really like the way breaks things down and presents data and analysis in nearly real-time.

And for my shameless self-promotion, you can learn more on my What Causes the Aurora page or learn how to take pretty pictures from my Camera Settings for Aurora Photography post.

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