Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Aurora Borealis Likely To Be Visible In Southern NY and PA Tonight

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the pretty-lights dept.

Earth 67

New submitter chromaexcursion writes "Several news source are reporting the likelihood of an impressive show of the Aurora Borealis visible as far south as Washington D.C. this evening. Accuweather explains: 'On the Kp index, the flare has been categorized at 6 to 8. This is a scale for measuring the intensity of a a geomagnetic storm. The 6 to 8 rating means that the effects of the radiation will have a greater reach. ... The radiation from such a flare may cause radio wave disturbances to electronics such as cell phones, GPS and radios, causing services to occasionally cut in and out. While traveling slower than was originally anticipated, the flare effects are moving towards Earth at 1000 km per second. ... The lights are currently estimated for 8 p.m. EDT Saturday arrival, with a possible deviation of up to seven hours.' Check the map; if you're in a fair-to-good zone, head out after sunset to see the show."

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

it's april 1? (-1, Troll)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43443541)

maybe the guy that wrote this looked at his clock and the last digit of the date was obscured by his obe wan kenobe doll's lighsaber so he thought it was april 1st?

either that or the "flare" they speak of refers to reemergence of a 70's phenomenon?

Re:it's april 1? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443647)

Shut the FUCK up you FUCKING FAGGOT! The FUCKING FAGGOTS and SLUTTY DYKES are ruining America by promoting FAGGOT MARRIAGE!

Re:it's april 1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443727)

I was going to say he was an idiot and should make us all smarter by shutting up, but I think you've outclassed him there. The sad thing is that, when society looks back on us, they'll see bigots like you absolutely everywhere.l

Re:it's april 1? (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43444147)

the op probably works for the TSA... what more can we expect?

Re:it's april 1? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444265)

This doesn't look like a joke, but something does seem off.

On the Kp index, the flare has been categorized at 6 to 8

Flares are not categorized with the Kp index. The Kp index is a scale for rating how large of a geomagnetic storm is going on. it is a non-linear scale of how much the Earth's magnetic field is deviating from typical value, as measured at several locations. Typically to get good auroras further south, you need both a high Kp index, which pushes the parts of the magnetic field lines bringing in solar wind and other stuff further away from the magnetic poles, and a source of particles to actually produce bright aurora. Solar storms do produce both, although there are situations where you can sometimes get one or the other.

Anyway, there several ways flares are rated, but the Kp index is not one of them. But it does factor into what into what to expect as far as aurora at more southernly locations. It is rather difficult to predict accurately from solar activity. The more accurate predictions are on short time scales using satellites in front of the Earth that can measure the solar magnetic field a few hours before variations hit us as carried by the solar wind. You can see the output of a model here [] , and so far it looks no where near as high as what Accuweather is suggesting. Although that model can be wrong at times, so it could still happen. For predictions and watches based on the space equivalent of weather men, you can find a chart of that here [] . While two days ago there was a watch made for a G2 level geomagnetic storm, which would be another way of describing a Kp=6 condition, the more recent updates and aurora circle maps show that current conditions are much short of that.

Re:it's april 1? (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | about a year ago | (#43445273)

I'll agree with the comments about there being zip lights. I checked all the so-called space weather sites I could think of, and absolutely no one was even aware of it. Here in north central WV, DC is about 150 miles due east of me, I went out several times to check, and while the sky was clear enough I found Polaris instantly, the only skylight was the usual glow from a 50k pop city 20 miles north.

As one commenter above said, we got bupkiss.

I can remember back in about '50 or '51, when we were testing nukes at high altitudes, we had some truly glorious northern lights in the farm country west of Des Moines, but its generally been pretty slim pickins since. So this turned out to be someone's wishful thinking ANAICT.

Cheers, Gene.

Re:it's april 1? (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year ago | (#43446531)

Between you remembering '50 and '51, your nick and your ID something tells me you're tired :)

Re:it's april 1? (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | about a year ago | (#43447191)

About as tired as you would expect a 78 yo diabetic to be. I just changed the blades on my 30 yo rider, which I had to jack up on a set of ramps, then pickup the front end about 20 inches so I could get my 1/2" impact wrench on the spindle bolts, and it will be about 1/2 an hour before my burning legs will feel like forking it and actually doing some of the first mowing of the year.

Getting old is not for wimps, I don't recommend it at all. ;-)

Cheers, Gene,

Re:it's april 1? (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year ago | (#43453187)

I don't know how I missed the re but the question was answered non the less :)

Nice to see active grown-ups on this site!

Re: it's april 1? (1)

glitch23 (557124) | about a year ago | (#43449355)

I'm in north central wv as well. I was outside from 5 to 930 and saw nothing but the usual stars.

Braiiiiiiiins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443593)

Extra illumination to draw a bead on your zombie horde, sweet.

Amish will save on lamp oil.


Oh, the end is nigh, almost forgot.

Nada in NYC (4, Interesting)

Shompol (1690084) | about a year ago | (#43443631)

Just checked from the roof of a 22 story bulding, the view North is over East River, but nothing to be seen there. I guess New York is not famous for astronomy discoveres with all the smog and lights.

Re:Nada in NYC (2)

C0R1D4N (970153) | about a year ago | (#43443643)

I can not see anything from the NJ pine barrens, but a seven hour deviation is the entirety of night this time of year.

Too far north for NYC still. (2)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about a year ago | (#43443765)

The best source for aurora visibility information is a forecast page run by the NOAA, but it's crushed under the load already, so I won't link it here. The second-best source is probably AccuWeather Astronomy's Facebook page [] or something like that. Anyway. Visibility hasn't even reached Maine yet.

Nothing in West Chester, PA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443999)

Just drove out into the farmland with no lights. Nothing.

Aurora Watch (2)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#43444075)

This website [] will send you emails when Aurora are likely - it's based in Edmonton so it works best for northerly locations with the same magnetic latitude but when the storm hits you should see the chance for Auroras spike in Edmonton as well - and you can sign up for an email if you don't want to watch the site.

Great night (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443641)

Aurora Borealis showing. Story of Ricky airing on Turner Classic Movies too. Could tonight be any more awesome?

Bright enough to compete with skyglow? (3, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | about a year ago | (#43443669)

It's going to have to been pretty bright to compete with the skyglow present all along the Northeast metropolitan area. I haven't seen the Milky Way in years; the last time it was visible in my neighborhood was about ten years ago, during a region-wide blackout.

Weather :( (2)

green1 (322787) | about a year ago | (#43443677)

Unfortunately I get to stare at a whiteout blizzard instead... Too bad, last year had a wonderful night watching the northern lights with my wife from our hot tub (best way to do so!)

Re:Weather :( (2, Funny)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#43443723)

There is nothing wrong with a wonderful night including you and your wife in a hot tub, but as to the "best way" we'll agree to disagree. Even in an allegedly monogamous relationship, the very best way is with the tub full of women who keep telling your wife how lucky she is to have you.

Re:Weather :( (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43443803)

Extra women are more trouble than they're worth. They smile, but they always extract something in the end.

Re:Weather :( (2)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#43443841)

Extra women are more trouble than they're worth. They smile, but they always extract something in the end.

Yes, our precious bodily fluids.

Re:Weather :( (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444385)

Which is why I only drink distilled water and pure grain alcohol.

Re:Weather :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443863)

Too bad, last year had a wonderful night watching the northern lights with my wife from our hot tub (best way to do so!)

Indeed. Watching the northern lights in your hot tub with your wife was one of the best nights of my life!

Good for you. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443921)

Personally, I'm not into the whole "boinking a hippo" scene, but hey, whatever turns you on!

It's beautiful if you get a chance to see it... (2)

IANAAC (692242) | about a year ago | (#43443709)

When I was a kid growing up in Northern Minnesota, we would see the lights often enough. Then there was a period from the mid-to-late 80s up until the mid-2000s I suppose that there were none to be seen.

Within the last couple years, though, they're back with increasing frequency. I've been able to catch them at least twice each year for the last two years from Northern Wisconsin. And two years ago (I think), I had a friend that lives in Ohio that was able to clearly see them.

Re:It's beautiful if you get a chance to see it... (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | about a year ago | (#43444033)

I went to college in Houghton, MI (way up north) and on the night of March 13th, 1989 [] we were walking back to our dorm from a parking lot and the auroras were so insane I couldn't even believe what I was seeing. They covered the entire northern half of the sky, with greens, reds, and violets rippling through them. I've never seen anything like it before or since but I consider myself very lucky to have been coming back from the bar at that particular time on that particular night. I'm still in Michigan, but after a quick check right now we currently have bubkus.

Re:It's beautiful if you get a chance to see it... (1)

mikael (484) | about a year ago | (#43445847)

Yes, we saw that in Scotland just after midnight - a giant + shape reddish/greenish in the sky, right opposite where the sun wound be. The same sort of shape you'd get from doing fluid motion simulations of a drain. Every now and again a huge sheet of green light would just shoot past from North to South, filling the entire sky.

Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443813)

We saw the northern lights from our house in 2003 following an X3.2-Class flare. But even where we live in central Maryland, the light pollution is significant.

Try this: (1)

the_buzzer (2896263) | about a year ago | (#43443935)

Looking outside will do nothing for you, Give NOAA space weather a try! When a geomagnetic storm is in progress keep an eye out on the auroral oval and how far it reaches down in the picure. If your sky area is clear and the storm is not strong the lights can look like faint clouds that move slowly. (Keep an eye on these as they can break out and get stronger) Most people will want to use a camera with a long exposure setting (bulb mode) to see them.

Re:Try this: (2)

snooo53 (663796) | about a year ago | (#43444465)

As someone who was fortunate enough to see the northern lights in the lower 48 last year, this is good advice. Keep your eye on the forecast; unless you're far up north, good opportunities don't come along too often. Find a dark spot in the country with a good view, and be patient since they do ebb and flow. Although it can vary based on the space weather, your best chance is usually around midnight, and you can get frequent updates here []

It took me a couple tries to finally see them the first time. And even that night, for the longest time, until my eyes adjusted, I thought I was just seeing hazy clouds. Every once in a while it would light up with color overhead, but sadly those only lasted a few minutes. Most of the time it was pretty faint, but still an amazing experience, and yes a long exposure is a must to get a decent photo!

Damn cloudy skies (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#43443941)

I can't see squat up there from where I live. My cell phone service at home ordinarily oscillates between terrible and inexistent, so I can't observe an effect from it on that either.

Links for current info (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443949)

POES Auroral Activity (Refreshes every 5 minutes) []
Fancy OVATION forecast (refreshes every 30 secs) []

There's apparently some media outlets doing facebook/twitter updates too, but A) I don't do either one and B) They're a lot less likely to contain actual information than the above. :)

Re:Links for current info (1)

idunham (2852899) | about a year ago | (#43444115)

Thanks for the links.

Re:Links for current info (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444203)

At least for the first on, the POES plot, the website will refresh every five minutes, but the information might not. The plot is based on satellite measurements, and the time between satellite fly overs can be anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour, plus some of the fly overs don't get good information. It is still a great resource, but be aware it can easily be out of date if conditions are changing fast.

not seeing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444063)

In northern indiana here, I dont see it.

Re:not seeing it (2)

Bronster (13157) | about a year ago | (#43444925)

try turning off your screen and trying again...

Re: not seeing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43445779)

I'm in southern indiana, didn't see anything. I only mention it because it's darker in this part. Driving all night on country roads, too.

Today is my birthday. Seeing my first aurora would have been amazing. Thanks for the gag gift, random aurora alert service!

Chasing Unicorns (4, Informative)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | about a year ago | (#43444077)

The first impact of the CME has hit and the boulder Kp is hovering around 3. Watch it here [] .and here [] . Here in southern Minnesota, Kp has to hit 6 before we see anything. 5 up on the Canadian border. Good luck spotting those unicorns!

Re:Chasing Unicorns (3)

jovius (974690) | about a year ago | (#43444703)

Persistent positive charge of the solar wind's magnetic field is preventing the storm to happen, even though conditions otherwise are favorable. Should the oncoming particles carry a negative charge things could change dramatically. The parameter is called Bz in this plot from the ACE satellite between Earth and Sun: [] The current value is also presented in the left sidebar of []

Re:Chasing Unicorns (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43445355)

Bz is not the charge, it is the strength of the magnetic field in the z direction (parallel to the earths rotation axis more or less). when it is positive it is reinforcing the earths field and not as many particles get in, when it is negative it is opposite the earth's field which weakens it and more stuff gets in to cause bigger displays.

Re:Chasing Unicorns (1)

jovius (974690) | about a year ago | (#43445377)

Thanks for the correction, I made a silly mistake...

Re:Chasing Unicorns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43447783)

If you like following stuff like this, be sure to subscribe to Suspicious0bservers .... -

The only weather report I watch daily. Lots of really good bullshit.

Born and raised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444101)

In West Philliadelipia?

Northern lights... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444257)

Salem Ohio nothing

Aurora (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444271)

Nothing in Staten Island either... Hope I can stay up to see it. ::yawn::

Chicago (1)

seven of five (578993) | about a year ago | (#43444289)


It doesn't look like it's going to happen for most (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | about a year ago | (#43444305)

It isn't moving south nearly as far as originally predicted/hoped.

Re: It doesn't look like it's going to happen for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444319)

Where did u get this info

Aurora Borealis? (1)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about a year ago | (#43444353)

I should go get some steamed hams and go stargazing.

If it weren't for heavy cloud cover (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444383)

If it weren't for heavy cloud cover, I would be able to see it. I'm at 53.5N, and I see Auroras all the time (and I am surrounded by city for at least 15 miles in every direction, and -worse- as they wear out, they are replacing the 'orange' sodium vapor street lights with 'bright white' LED street lights). On the other hand, I've seen Auroras very much brighter than the street lights (intense neon green and blue where black sky should be). It doesn't matter if there is a lot of light pollution, you aren't looking at tiny dots of starlight, big auroras are a lot more 'in your face'.

I've listened to Northen lights. (4, Interesting)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about a year ago | (#43444391)

Hitchhiked a ride in Alaska; we were as outback as you can get
when the driver hit the brakes and pulled to the side of the road.
Scary a$$ stuff when you hitching a ride, but the driver saw the lights.

Pitch black, and not a sound could be heard as we were in the middle of nowhere.
We got out and watched them for awhile; they were like high speed clouds, rushing over us to swirl,
disappear, and repeat, no color these were just white, thus the cloud reference.

But the three of us can say we've heard the Northern Lights.
If you waited for it you could hear them, very subtle but very neat.

This was before public Internet and hard for others to accept, but now you can
find (google) many others who have heard them as well.

Re:I've listened to Northen lights. (0)

vlueboy (1799360) | about a year ago | (#43444561)

I'll be interested to see some youtube uploads in the next few days, but the quality of budget cameras for low-light captures is atrocious. Almost every sky picture that is not captured by a telescope was taken on DSLRs with tripods and exposure tricks. It seems the star-tracking mandatory for telescopes is completely ignored on Flickr and google image results. I cannot believe the Hubble et al seem to lack pictures of the the Milky way from the sky, where they can be horizon free, devoid of light pollution, AND streak free.

About your post, I read in the nineties about a blind man who marveled what some sound was that apparently came from the Auroras overhead. The blind are known to have a stronger sense of hearing. This was on my mind when I went out near 9PM but I only aurora-free stars and a bunch of clouds. I have eyesight but have never caught auroras because I'm too far south, and people favor pictures of it rather than videos. Tonight could have been special.

Re:I've listened to Northen lights. (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year ago | (#43445573)

I'm not sure how much star tracking would help with aurora - the images change over time so you'd probably just get a photo of some stars over a colored background that lacks most of the features of an aurora. For short-duration photos that would capture the essence of the aurora star tracking is probably not necessary.

As far as the milky way goes, I'm surprised somebody hasn't taken a photo from the ISS or such. The hubble probably wouldn't generate a terribly impressive photo - the field of view is way too narrow. Telescopes generate images of very small areas in the sky - especially large ones like the Hubble. If you want to really capture the milky way you need a pretty wide-angle lens.

I do find it odd that it is hard to find such photos online. All you need to do is take a photo from space - I'd think that even a regular DSLR would work. If you wanted it to be a reasonably long exposure you would need to have it attached to a support which was motionless with respect to the stars.

Aurora Borealis (1)

allo (1728082) | about a year ago | (#43445033)

Aurora Borealis? In your kitchen?!

Re:Aurora Borealis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43445323)

Aurora Borealis? At this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, Localized entirely within your kitchen?

Re:Aurora Borealis (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43445743)

May I see it?

Timely posting there, editors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43445223)

I love how news like this is always posted just late enough that I miss it before the event is over. The really sad part about this is that it surely happens only because the editors use their ability to configure when an article is posted in order to assume that everyone watches Slashdot constantly, and so the best time to tell everyone is the very moment it starts to become dark outside, and not a moment beforehand.

Here's a hint, dipshits: Your site sucks. Most of the articles are simply bait to encourage everyone to read the comments not because the article makes any sense, but because it's so incredibly stupid. Half of the people want to go in to show everyone how they're smarter than everyone else. The other half just want to verify that not everyone on the planet is a fucking moron and that someone somewhere in the comments noticed the same thing about the article that they did. Then, when an actual news-like event occurs, you fuck that up as well by posting about it so late that most of your readership won't see it until the event is over.

Honestly, I'd stay the fuck away from this site were it not that sometimes I'm just so fucking bored that it's better than nothing.

Borealis Shmorealis (1)

Turminder Xuss (2726733) | about a year ago | (#43445367)

Booking a ticket to Hobart if the Aurora Australis is going to light up like this [] again.

Bad article timing there.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43445767)

The CME happened on Thursday, and the story only comes on the afternoon of the very night of the visibility of the event?

Timing fail. I'm not blaming slashdot for this one specifically, since the linked story itself only came out on Saturday as well, but really, it would have been nice to know about it 24 hours sooner.

Re:Bad article timing there.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43447807)

then subscribe to the daily Youtube post by Suspicious0bservers

Cue global warming blaming in 3-2-1... (0)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about a year ago | (#43449149)

I give it 48 hours before some ignoramus on a morning TV talk show blames it thusly.

Washington D.C., isn't that waaaay south? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43449921)

That's 39 degrees north. I live in europe and that's south of Madrid. I live considerably north of that and have never seen aurora borealis. I find it very, very, very hard to believe that you can see the aurora that far south.

Not Tonight (1)

big_oaf (560706) | about a year ago | (#43550049)

Better get in your time machine, 'cause the AccuWeather article talking about "tonight" is from April 13.

Re:Not Tonight (1)

big_oaf (560706) | about a year ago | (#43550111)

Goddammit. I blame Feedly for putting this article in my "Today" feed.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>