In just a few days it will have been a dozen years since the great so-called “Halloween Auroras” danced across the stars…they were an unforgettable sight!
This was the 6th largest Geomagnetic Storm in recorded history and caused powerful and colorful auroras to be witnessed across much of the Earth.
Massive auroral displays were reported as low as 20 degrees latitude of the equator, the Northern Lights pushing southward and the Southern Lights pushing northward…simultaneously!
In Alaska aurora of every color danced back and forth over 3 nights and often pushed over the curvature of Earth leaving skies mostly star-filled for hours at a time…until they returned once again to higher latitudes.
This dynamic event occurred on the waning side of the maximum of Solar Cycle 23, a cycle typically averaging 11 years, approximately 6-7 years on the incline to peak and 4-5 years on the decline to solar minimum.
So far Solar Cycle 24, now also on the waning side of solar maximum, has yet to produce any flaring or auroral events even remotely close to this storm, though the world news media attempts to have us think otherwise.
By comparison, Solar Cycle 24 may turn out to be one of the weakest solar cycles on record, but powerful solar activity can certainly still surprise us…our Sun will do what it wants to do, when it wants to do it!
There are no truly accurate predictions for such events, though “predictions” are improving, but when they do finally begin to affect Earth in some fashion, the short-term “guess” is…“Here they are…maybe they’ll stay?”
Such rare celestial beauty will only happen a few times in anyone’s lifetime…and only a handful of people will be fortunate enough to be awake at night and outside under the stars to enjoy it!
The images below are first over the Chugach Mountains through dawn on October 29th/30th in southcentral Alaska and then over the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains in the Copper River Basin on October 30th/31st.