|May 31st - June 1st
Minnesota Geomagnetic Storm
What a weird deal this was. Usually there is some type of well publicized
statement we are about to get pummeled by something which blew up on the
surface of the sun but this one came without warning. As of the 3pm on June
1st there is no explination. Scientists are only referring to it as an
interplanetary shock wave. Really odd. But the results were stunning.
I was sitting at home watching the drama unfolding as yet another violent tornado was moving through the Oklahoma City
metro area as many of my chaser friends were on the storm. Between watching the news feeds and monitoring Facebook, I got
a message from my good friend, Jim Saueressig, who runs the Kansas Horizons website asking if I could see the aurora from my
house. I was like "What? There isn't supposed to be anything going on tonight." Ironically about an hour before, I made
mention to Melinda what a great evening it would be to see some 'lights. I checked the parameters and went into the backyard
for a quick test shot. Yup, you could plainly see the auroral oval about 45 degree above the horizon. My daughter jumped in
the car with me and we went a couple of miles out of town to take a look.
The oval was kind of just sitting there. It was very bright but little to no motion other than kind of a quivering effect. Weird.
Clouds kept filtering in so after 40 minutes or so I decided to head back home to get my daughter off to bed and to check the
infrared satellite images to see if there was any hope of clearing in case something did pop.
At about 12:15am it sure looked like something big was about to occur based on the spaceweather parameters. The proton
count was high, the solar wind was screaming, and earth's magnetic field was tipped waaaaay south. I walked out in the
backyard and could plainly see spikes were beginning to push upwards and the oval was even closer than before. Time to go!
As the family slept, I headed west / northwest to get away from the clouds and headed to a spot near Maple Lake. What
happened over the next 3 hours was nothing short of spectacular.
Some blues and purples were coming into view. When looking straight up, you could see the tell-tale shimmering silver lights
flashing as the solar storm ramped up.
|12:55 am. BOOM! The show was on!
|Hints of orange. I haven't seen those for a couple of years.
|Looking straight up. Pretty sure up at the in-laws in Grand Rapids, you would have been able to look south and see them.
|A river of auroras. Pretty common near the arctic circle, but not so much in central Minnesota. Cool!!
|One nice thing about long-duration events is you can move around to shooting spots. I wanted the lights over water!
|This little pond was cool but not what I was looking for. Time to head to a real lake with a bigger surface area.
|Ida Lake was the ticket. About 2:30am now.
|Note the blue spike. Things were about to get real interesting again.
|I've noticed auroas are a lot like cyclic supercell thunderstorms.
|They tend to "wrap up" much like a supercell does before it drops a tornado.
Note the streaky thing a little left of 12 o'clock. No idea what it is / was.
Notice the similarity in appearence to a shelf cloud coming at me and the increase in the blue spikes. The silver flashes were
back overhead again. Something was about to happen.
And it goes nuts again! This time the spikes weren't fast, but they reached waaaay up and seemed to dift off to the east as the
"bow" began to uncoil. Sorry about the tree in the upper right.
|Possibly my favorite shot from this round.
|So many great views tonight. It is hard to pick one.
|Approaching 4am, still going strong but the sunlight was starting to become evident. Time to head for home again.
|I had to make one last stop at one of my favorite kayaking spots for a final look. A top 5 show for me for sure!