Aurora Borealis over Black Oak Lake’s North Shore – Sept 2022, Rob Seymour, Jr.
The Northern Lights (aurora borealis) are perhaps the thrill of the summer for the Black Oak Lake night sky watcher. They generate a number of very late night phone calls around the lake which infuriate your neighbors until they go out and look up! The dancing lights are caused by variations in the “Solar Wind” emanating from the sun. The sun goes through a cycle of activity which averages 10.7 years long. These cycles are numbered and we are currently (Summer, 2023) just into solar cycle 25 and are at a low but rapidly increasing level of activity. Originally, forecasters thought Solar Cycle 25 would be about the same strength as Solar Cycle 24, one of the weakest solar cycles in a century. Current trends suggest Solar Cycle 25 will slightly surpass that low threshold, at least. Solar Maximum is not expected until 2024 or 2025, so it has plenty of time to strengthen further, bringing X-flares, geomagnetic storms and auroras. For daily updates on solar activity see www.solarcycle25.com.
History has also shown that earth’s temperature varies with solar activity (see http://home.cern/about/experiments/cloud) so we may also be in for a return to below normal cold.
YOU CAN FORECAST THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ….. SORT OF
Since the solar wind takes from 17 hours to 7 days to reach earth, the aurora borealis is somewhat predictable. Satellites positioned at the L1 Lagrange Point (FYI, the L2 Lagrange Point is the new home of the James Webb Space Telescope which arrived there on Feb 5, 2022) of equal gravitational attraction between the sun and the earth can give up to 48 hour warnings of an approaching Coronal Emission. A good site for three day forecasts is: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/3-day-forecast.
Here’s an example (click here) of the forecast from February 27, 2023 when there was a burst of aurora displays going on. Notice the higher numbers for the early hours of February 28 and the reference to the very high probability on the previous night.
Excellent explanation of the aurora in video
Scroll down the left side of the below page for daily predictions of auroral activity.. A world map is featured: