back to article Solar plasma aurora storm ongoing debate

As Earthlings have been going unconcernedly about their business this week, the biggest radiation storm for a decade has been lashing the planet. A mighty "solar tsunami" event on Sunday caused vast clouds of particles to belch from the Sun in our direction, and these have been piling into the planet's magnetic field since …


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  1. Hairy Spod


    Oh, is tomorrow the first day of the triffids?

  2. Ian K
    Black Helicopters

    Spectacular light shows across most of the globe - everyone watch the skies!

    This is the start of "Day of the Triffids", isn't it? :o

  3. Graeme Coates

    Not as good as...

    ...April 6th 2000. Aurora visible as far south as Spain - around midnight the entire sky turned red with shimmering white streamers where I was in Surrey.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the classic BOFH excuse...

    (cosmic rays) now finally scientifically valid. Admins, rejoice!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every one of you that can read my post

    keep watching the skies!

  6. JaffaMan

    Any good?! Not sure

    Has anyone actually seen the Northern Lights? I'd like your opinion.

    I have, in Iceland, earlier this year (before the unpronouncable erupted). They were frankly......rubbish (however, it was a full moon which may have swamped the lights a bit). It was a faint grey smudge to the naked eye. However, with a 30 second exposure on an expensive DSLR, the chap next to me got your typical postcard picture of a beautifull green shimmering cloud!

    Now, every photo I've seen of the lights, if you look carefully, you can see over exposed street lights, house lights, lights on cars etc indicating a long exposure. The link given in the article shows some photos - with 30s exposures!

    Could someone tell me, under the right conditions, are the northern lights/aurora really as spectacular to the naked eye as all the pciture postcards suggest? I feel somewhat conned to be honest!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Any good?! Not sure

      I saw the Northern Lights in Iceland last year while walking through Reykjavík, the green display was clearly visible over the streetlights and was spookily over the graveyard we were walking past. I then took one of the excursions out into the countryside at night to view the display and although we saw the lights they were much dimmer, but watching the ribbons of light develop in the sky is amazing. I'd admit that the postcards do seem to be long exposure photos, but what I saw was close enough,

    2. Graeme Coates
      Thumb Up

      Re: Any good?! Not sure

      Yes they are spectacular. The entire sky can turn red, green, purple with dancing curtains of light. It's easily visible to the naked eye, and can be very bright too - when in the right place at the right time. Just that most of the time, the right place is not the UK as we are at low of a magnetic latitude...

    3. ravenviz
      Thumb Up

      Re: Any good?! Not sure

      I saw them once from the north coast of Scotland, they were very faint but you could detect (vertical) movement in a kind of ethereal way, like tendrils extending upwards. What impressed me though was how big they seemed and also their vast extent east to west.

    4. fch

      don't hold your breath but they can look better than the pictures

      Under the right conditions, they're better than the picture postcards.

      On the day before the 2003 solar eclipse, there was a big auroral storm visible from all over Europe, which we witnessed from the seafront at Binz in Ruegen/Germany. Not exactly a dark spot, yet the aurora clearly showed colors, green, red and purple. One could see the green curtains hanging along the northern horizon and moving just about at the speed that you notice it clearly, and then red vortexes, streaks and purple streamers developing and changing very quickly all the way up to the zenith. The display lasted over two hours.

      I say "better than pictures" because in reality, the curtains and streak appear much sharper and better defined than the pictures. And you get that ghostly motion, much of what happens is just about at the threshold where you can see it creep along, and of course there's no sound. The colors are paler than in the pictures though, dimmer parts appear grey.

      I've spend countless hours under the skies, enjoying astronomy, but never experienced similar before or since. So, yes, "under the right conditions".

      What irks me to this day is that although we were five amateur astronomers on a trip to see & photograph the solar eclipse the next day, we had been at the pub drinking before and noone was carrying a camera around. No, what we saw wasn't due to the beers.

      In that sense, cheers to the next aurora !

      1. JaffaMan

        will try again then!

        Thanks all!

        In that case then, i'll be booking another holiday to Iceland!! Faith restored somewhat.

        I think the guide wanted us to feel like we'd got out moneys worth as she said it was quite a good display (it really wasn't). But it did leave me thinking that it was all a bit of a con!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's possible, but not in south nor in cities.

      "Could someone tell me, under the right conditions, are the northern lights/aurora really as spectacular to the naked eye as all the pciture postcards suggest? I feel somewhat conned to be honest!"

      Yes, but you'd need a really dark place, a winter night outside of light sources, preferable above the polar circle. If you can see a sky with full of stars and no lights on the ground, then you have a possibility.

      If you can walk by the starlight, then you have the right conditions.

      In any city flooded with artificial light? No. Not even in north.

      1. ravenviz

        Re: Any good?! Not sure

        I tried to have a look last night, I convinced myself I could see something but then I live less than 5 miles from Heathrow airport, the light that place chucks out is impressive!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    All those people who claim to be sensitive to wifi "radiation" and want it stopped

    should surely be twitching in the streets today?

    Or is this different as its "natural" radiation and therefore their friend?

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Natural radiation

      Of course, there is a huge difference between unnatural WRONG AND EVIL radiation and natural GOOD radiation. This is why, for instance, sheep farmers in the lake district have not been able to sell sheep (BAD radiation from Chernonbyl) while we all enjoy a nice holiday in Cornwall (GOOD NATURAL radiation).

      It's important to keep these distinctions in mind.

      1. Gobhicks


        You'll find there actually is quite a big difference between ingesting unnatural radioactive fall-out material that then emits radiation from inside your body and being exposed to the natural solar radiation that makes it past the magnetosphere and through the atmosphere.

        Just sayin'...

    2. Andy 17

      Wifi "radiation"

      Erm no it's different because the Earth's protective magnetic field is actually blocking this radiation!

      Why oh why do some people find it so difficult to read?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wifi "radiation"

        Also, presumably the crap coming from the sun is ionizing radiation.

        1. Gordon Slater

          My Domestic Boffins say..."only ironising radiation is dangerous..

          ..mainly because it's concentrated in the infra-red bands (and the nearby waist-bands)"

          We can protect ourselves from it quite easily using various "Oxy" washing powders that contain optical brighteners to both brighten our perception and reflect 99.9% deadly rays. Maybe.

  8. Jay Bea

    arriving sun-belch particles

    I always know where to come to learn the correct scientific names for things.

    1. Thomas 4

      I have an alternative term

      "Magnetic effluvia from the solar ejaculation"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is it getting hotter

    Maybe the sun does impact the temperature here on earth.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Of course it does. The numbers show that the sun has been through a cooling phase over the last 60 years, reducing some of the impact caused by other warming factors.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Christopher Cowan

      Doubtful you'll see the aurora

      People in US are seeing this because of the way the continent faces the magnetic pole. I doubt anyone in the UK will see it, have a look at the readings here and see how low they are

      You can also use this map and cross reference the kp number (which is currently 2.67) and see it would need to be around 9 for anyone in Southern England to see it.

      Here is the last polar orbit of the auroral oval

      1. Anonymous Coward

        K-indeces rock!

        Never thought I'd say that in public :)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      searching for the lights near Sirius the Dogging star?

      Fnarr-fnarr, what a lovely display!

      "Honest officer, it was a solar eruption that caused those stains on my trousers"

  11. Rick Giles

    I welcome

    our sun-belch particle overlords.

  12. Oliver 7

    Schmorthern Lights!

    These were supposed to be visible around midnight last night but despite the relatively clear skies I didn't see a thing (Lothian)!

    I have seen them once before, fairly faintly, (perhaps about 5 or 6 years ago) but I believe they can be quite spectacular. Can't stay up tonight though unfortunately, early start.

  13. Stewart Wood

    Met office says NOO!

    Looks like the weather is against most of us

    Mostly Cloudy + Rain in the later hours

    So unless your flying at 3600ft your not going to see anything < Not looking too good for us in the UK

    1. Jan 0 Silver badge

      Captain High at your service.

      Surely you mean 39,000 feet?

  14. ravenviz

    Heavy metal saves the day - again

    I am relieved that Van Halen belts have once again prevented the nasty radiation from reaching the Earth. Rock 1, Sun 0. \m/

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    be hoping to watch from a dark, long, layby; which will mask the townlights.

    Hopefully I will see something. If not I'll hope that there's some dogging going on !

  16. Christopher Cowan

    Another useful link

  17. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Bright over the Atlantic

    They were visible on the BA flight I took from Boston last night. People on the left-hand side of the plane had a spectacular view of green and red plasma somewhere near Iceland.

    I was on the right-hand side of the plane.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      My sympathies

      Had the same thing happen last time (1990?) there was a spectacular far-south display. On the climb out of Heathrow towards Belfast the pilot announced that "people on the RHS of the plane could see a spectacular display of the northern lights, really unusual this far south". I had a window seat on the LHS, and the seatbelt light stayed resolutely on. Bastards.

  18. TeeCee Gold badge

    "Proton rainfall density"

    Hmm, I'd better take my tinfoil brolly if I go out tonight then.

  19. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Just... you have it handy, here is a repeat of the link to the SDO image pages.

    Many of the faces and other organic forms you see there might be attributed to JPEG artifacts.

  20. ElNumbre

    The perfect excuse...

    "Yes Officer, I do have a valid excuse for stalking around my garden in the dark. I wasn't spying on my hot neighbour, I was looking for the the Aurora Booberalis. I mean Borealis."

    I'll get my dirty flasher mac.

  21. Munchausen's proxy


    The "coronal mass ejection" events of the weekend were, however, thought likely to lead to spectacular aurorae visible much further south than usual in the northern hemisphere as arriving sun-belch particles poured along the planetary field lines into the polar regions and crashed into the atmosphere, so boosting the "northern lights"*.

    You say the darnedest things.

  22. Fxhero

    Satellite impact

    Is this solar flare strong enough to disturb any of the satellites? Or does the magnetic field extend far enough to cover them out to geo-synchronous orbit?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    No green lights

    No green lights here but there is a dashed awful smell though :-)

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Not especially amazing"

    Well, this is the bit where I was going to comment on not appreciating nature or something, but it's true! I've seen some beautiful aurora shots, in contrast this auroral display appears fairly plain.

  26. Cornholio


    Set my alarm for 01:00hrs, but nothing to be seen above Cornholio Towers. Dreadful light pollution over Nottingham though.

  27. Modjo30

    Well THE REGISTER got it wrong

    There was no Aurora last night anywhere, the 2 eruptions on sunday joined together and hit on tuesday night so there was never going to be another one, any plasma left just missed the earth, funny how sites like this and the national papers find out things like this way too late

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