Of Particular Significance

Why did so few people see Auroras on Friday night?

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 09/15/2014

Why did so few people see auroras on Friday night, after all the media hype? You can see one of two reasons in the data. As I explained in my last post, you can read what happened in the data shown in the Satellite Environment Plot from this website (warning — they’re going to make new version of the website soon, so you might have to modify this info a bit.) Here’s what the plot looked like Sunday morning.

What the "Satellite Environment Plot" on swpc.noaa.gov looked like on Sunday.  Friday is at left; time shown is "Universal" time; New York time is 4 hours later. There were two storms, shown as the red bars in the Kp index plot; one occurred very early Friday morning and one later on Friday.  You can see the start of the second storm in the "GOES Hp" plot, where the magnetic field goes wild very suddenly.  The storm was subsiding by midnight universal time, so it was mostly over by midnight New York time.
What the “Satellite Environment Plot” on swpc.noaa.gov looked like on Sunday. Friday is at left.  Time shown is “Universal” time (UTC); New York time is 4 hours later at this time of year. There were two storms, shown as the red bars in the Kp index chart (fourth line); one occurred very early Friday morning and one later on Friday. You can see the start of the second storm in the “GOES Hp” chart (third line), where the magnetic field goes wild very suddenly. The storm was subsiding by midnight Universal time, so it was mostly over by midnight New York time.

What the figure shows is that after a first geomagnetic storm very early Friday, a strong geomagnetic storm started (as shown by the sharp jump in the GOES Hp chart) later on Friday, a little after noon New York time [“UTC” is currently New York + 4/5 hours], and that it was short — mostly over before midnight. Those of you out west never had a chance; it was all over before the sun set. Only people in far western Europe had good timing. Whatever the media was saying about later Friday night and Saturday night was somewhere between uninformed and out of date.  Your best bet was to be looking at this chart, which would have shown you that (despite predictions, which for auroras are always quite uncertain) there was nothing going on after Friday midnight New York time.

But the second reason is something that the figure doesn’t show. Even though this was a strong geomagnetic storm (the Kp index reached 7, the strongest in quite some time), the auroras didn’t migrate particularly far south. They were seen in the northern skies of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, but not (as far as I know) in Massachusetts. Certainly I didn’t see them. That just goes to show you (AccuWeather, and other media, are you listening?) that predicting the precise timing and extent of auroras is educated guesswork, and will remain so until current knowledge, methods and information are enhanced. One simply can’t know for sure how far south the auroras will extend, even if the impact on the geomagnetic field is strong.

For those who did see the auroras on Friday night, it was quite a sight. And for the rest of us who didn’t see them this time, there’s no reason for us to give up. Solar maximum is not over, and even though this is a rather weak sunspot cycle, the chances for more auroras over the next year or so are still pretty good.

Finally, a lesson for those who went out and stared at the sky for hours after the storm was long over — get your scientific information from the source!  There’s no need, in the modern world, to rely on out-of-date media reports.

Share via:


56 Responses

  1. 5 star rating and is known to be very addictive as players are known to spend hours playing the game.
    Which is why we’ve taken the hard decision to delay the worldwide release of
    Little – Big – Planet 2, originally slated for later this year to January
    2011. First of all, isn’t it arbitrarily oppressive,
    yet accepted as validly given, even by professing unbelievers, that a lot of don’t
    have any choice but to consider Saturdays and Sundays,
    as well as Christmas, being holidays.

  2. As for hidden information, think of it as being temporarily hidden. When some information is inside the black hole, you can’t access that information and the black hole has a corresponding entropy. When the black hole evaporates away, there is nothing left to contain the entropy, so the information must have been sent out somehow and it’s now un-hidden (or so it’s believed, as of today). Again, I don’t think there’s a concrete calculation to establish this definitively — mainly since we don’t have a good handle on quantum gravity.– physics stack exchange.

    If the hidden (chaotic) information made un-hidden, there will be no mass, so there is no need of quantum gravity.

  3. Anyone know when Matt will be posting again? I understand he moved to a new city, and presumably a new position. I have a question I’m eager to ask him, but don’t want to post it till he returns.

  4. Fortunately, CCTV security systems can be obtained at a
    number of price points, ensuring affordability for individuals, families and businesses of all sizes.
    On top of the, this Security DVR can operate four tasks simultaneously.
    Cctv dvr card software In many retail institutions, police stations, prisons, as well as high security scientific and manufacturing facilities,
    the application of wireless CCTV video security cameras are normal.

    What’s more valuable is that you simply are careful along with your
    CCTV systems to acquire the very most from them also to improve
    your security around possible. The alarm system of CCTV is a lot
    more secure than any internet-based camera monitoring.

  5. Experts warn parents let their children have fun with sound toys in the limit.
    You have to keep in mind that it will not be dangerous by its attempt
    like toy gun harms an eye of anybody will be thrown away in short.
    Nerf illegal mod The way the toys were crafted in those days depicted the culture in the society, the way of
    clothing, the panache, activities, occupations, social standards and conditions.

    It can be a Nerf ball, sponge ball, Wiffle ball, or a good bean bag.
    The number of franchisees ison an upswing as daily passes byand the demand for toys about the other hand seems to be increasing through the minute.

  6. In the finish, the most effective HDTV antenna advice is to get your
    antenna from your place that has an excellent return policy.
    Given the proper line of sight and antenna these bridges can connect networks which might be located even 30 miles in addition to each other.
    Hdtv antenna from costco They will truly help you in having the right form of HDTV antenna according
    to your specification. Here are a few practical tips which you can apply when you are within the midst of seeking the antenna to your digital television. Those which
    have TV antennas in Melbourne can invariably count on professionals to be sure a successful and lasting installation. Best amplified
    outdoor hdtv antenna It is vital, however, to get newer
    RG interconnects along with your TV antenna installation.
    Hdtv outdoor antenna wa 2608 The right aerial antenna situated within the
    most appropriate place inside your home can provide the top television viewing experience to your whole family.
    Before you decide on what kind of HDTV antenna to buy you’ll need to find out if
    it’s illegal to have one outside according for a local ordinances.
    Outdoor multi directional hdtv antenna For all sorts of antennas, please pay a visit to this
    particular resourceful Danish website.

    On HDTV, each person could be represented by five different color pixels, which could show them
    with multiple color outfits and banners. Find out about
    the best cheap LCD HDTVs, speakers, DVD players and Blu-ray
    players on your home theater setup. Hdtv antenna reception toronto You’ll
    get the best performance putting it outside, and mounted so this antenna is
    rated to grab VHF and UHF signals from as much as 60 miles away.
    In essence, the living body is definitely an antenna effective at sensing all sorts of energies.
    There was a time when a mobile handset accustomed to come with an antenna to trap the reception signal.
    Ge millennium hdtv antenna review The companies often provide a checkup of your antenna
    systems at no cost so you can get monthly services and upgrades.

  7. One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles once more shot
    down rumours how the boys will separate to pursue solo careers and said that they
    may be still on the same page. I was very surprised and disappointed to find out Gallagher using this
    position. Baofeng wiki If you’d like to acquire a real insight
    into how life was over fifty years ago you’ll find few possible ways than immersing yourself
    in the wonderful realm of old time radio.

    Another common example of cutoff frequency that individuals usually observe is in our television. Baofeng aa battery The one
    I have includes a suction cup one end that I stick on the phone receiver and plug
    one other end into my tape recorder. In fact, authors Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield, as part of
    their marketing policy for the Chicken Soup to the Soul label, made one radio
    appearance each day.

  8. I hardly leave comments, however i did a few searching and wound up here Why did so
    few people see Auroras on Friday night? | Of Particular Significance.
    And I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Is it only me or does it give
    the impression like some of the responses appear
    like left by brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are writing on other online social sites, I would like to keep up
    with everything new you have to post. Could you list of the complete urls of your
    public pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or
    linkedin profile?

  9. Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the internet the simplest thing
    to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries
    that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined
    out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal.
    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  10. Your ability to address other voices in the cartoon appropriately
    also counts. The best part of the weekend growing up was rushing to the television and seeing what the cartoons were and where they would
    take me. And when these animals interact with people alongside really
    green scenery, it makes for the cartoon songs to be really soulful.

    In Time dilation, clock tick slow at mass concentration and tick fast at away from mass concentration.
    But according to Uncertainty principle, the electron nearing the nucleus (Mass Concentration) will get more kinetic energy and move fast, thats why it is not falling into nucleus.
    Now, more movement means less concentration of mass, more “SPACE” and more speed. Nearing the speed of light, there will be no mass – only Energy – all maas as movement energy (Gluon ?).
    Photons in closed box can create black holes – but photons are electromagnetic – unlike gluons separate charges.
    Then there is no Rest Mass – NO FORMATION OF Black Hole !

    1. An electron nearing the nucleus of an atom does not get more kinetic energy, indeed its total energy decreases; what happens is some of its potential energy becomes kinetic. (And some is emitted as photons.) The uncertainty principle does not cause this, indeed it OPPOSES this. The electron would ‘like’ to fall into the nucleus and lose all its energy, being destroyed. But the UP tells it that it cannot lose all its energy.

      When it comes to accelerating a mass such as an electron things are different. An electron will spontaneously fall towards a nucleus, *releasing* energy, but to get one up to light speed something external needs to *add* energy. You are right in saying that the ‘concentration of mass’ decreases, but that is just because there is so much energy. At light speed a particle would still have its mass, but it would also have infinite energy.

      Current theories state that all mass is some sort of energy. Particles ‘start out’ massless then things happen that give them some sort of potential or movement energy. Of course this is what we expect, ‘e=mc^2’ tells us that mass and energy are the same thing.

      1. Thankful Mr. Kudzu, you have properly learned Quantum mechanics mathematics and its axioms – which I was struck with, after my bachelor Physics.
        To circumvent “The uncertainty principle does not cause this, indeed it OPPOSES this” this, to go otherside, I got intuition complication.
        But if you recogonize “Now, more movement means less concentration of mass, more “SPACE” and more speed” this – I feel Iam in otherside.

  12. I don’t think the Plank findings totally rule out the Bicep findings, merely cast some doubt. As for Auroras they seem to always find the very late nights or early mornings to become visible. Tough to pull oneself out of bed.

  13. Not in the price, try to get a suitable team on the case.
    Using a liquid coolant, vehicle a motor and a
    switch to look at. Many people walk in thinking it is going to start functioning
    properly again. Appliance repair is one service we vehicle all dread.
    That is far from the truth essentially. You don’t
    have to try and figure out what is wrong with your
    appliance. All the excitement of buying new gizmos die out
    if these gizmos or appliances start giving you trouble after using them for
    certain period of time.

  14. Consult a professional auto mechanic to help you drive it successfully.
    A standard maintenance of criminal defense lawyers the vehicle.

    You can get the best service at reasonable rates. Rebuilding a transmission is not criminal defense lawyers operating the way it should.
    Signals should quickly slide into equipment without any hassle,
    so if drivers ever notice a red-ish puddle under their car, again, this will require immediate action on the driver’s part.

  15. Just ask Mr. Crosser, whose Liberty secure survived the San Diego wild fires as
    they roared to temperatures over 2,000 levels, burning his home to the bottom; or Mr.
    Woodson, whose Liberty safe remained bolted to his floor
    and landed upright after flying 200 ft throughout an F4 twister in Tennessee.

  16. Radioactivity is the change of mass into energy. In this the information lost to environment is irreversible – unless there is quantum tunneling to lowest energy level by spontaneous symmetry breaking.
    Quantities associated with measurements, such as the average momentum of a particle, are derived from the wavefunction by mathematical operations that describe its interaction with observational devices.

    Today we know that gluons are massless. The strong nuclear power has nevertheless a short range, this is it, that the gluons attract Each other and so nuclear power to shield. So, there is not a Higgs particle that gives mass to the gluons.

    The Higgsfeld (and not about the Higgs particle) gives all other particles their mass – but a large part of the observed mass in fact goes back to the binding energy in the protons and neutrons.
    Higgs has shown in his work so that it is always possible that a particle like the Higgs particles so modifies the properties of a first massless boson, that it gets a mass. The work is General in nature, but it is briefly addressed a specific example, is referred to with the abbreviation of SU(3).

    Higgs only proposed Higgs mechanism not the Higgs particle. Higgs in his paper was clearly mentioned that “through higgs mechanism only GLUONS give mass to proton – not higgs particles” !

    By spontaneous symmetry breaking, only W and Z bosons can acquire mass (the particles, which are responsible for the conversion of a particle type to another (and thus for the radioactivity)) – because of Radioactive “DECAY” – in which photons acquired no mass ?!

    1. Radioactivity, like many things, is an increase in entropy. There are some processes where energy is converted into mass. Physical information is not lost during radioactive decay. In theory nothing should be able to cause such information to be lost. (Black holes thus have an ‘information paradox.’)

      Gluons do not interact with the Higgs field, other particles also do not such as gravitons. Quarks appear to gain mass via the Higgs mechanism though top and bottom quarks have a small mass compared to a proton. (Particles containing say, strange quarks owe a larger percentage of their mass to their quarks.)

      Certainly if electroweak symmetry breaking acts as we think it does then quarks must have at least some mass.

      1. Good, all in the first paragraph are true when, they obey Lorentz invariance and relativity. In that sense Higgs mechanism was intended to pions – but did not work. But worked for weak force carriers.
        Entropy increases because there is some information lost to heat bath.
        But inside proton the situation is different. We cannot extrapolate or perturbation by higgs particle, like in W, Z, electron ball and spring function – because we cannot separate (ball and spring) quarks and gluons (color confienment) ?

        1. … Information is out of quantum decoherence, reduces uncertanity. So theoritically, like SM, information is not lost but without mass and gravity ?
          (if we consider mass is a chaotic information of true vacuum – and we are in false vacuum).

          1. While an electron cannot exceed the speed of light this has little to do with how fast it is moving around most nuclei. Indeed it is difficult to say the electron is ‘moving’ in the way we usually consider movement. In a hydrogen atom for example en electron’s ‘speed’ (If it were orbiting like a planet) wouldn’t even make 1% of c. In very heavy atoms such as mercury there is a relativistic effect due to the incredibly charged nucleus pulling electrons so close.

            Gluons do not exceed the speed of light; being massless they move AT the speed of light exactly. We have evidence for this but certainly none for faster-than-light speeds. (If we did, if *anything* moved faster than c then whoever discovered it would get a Nobel prize. All of physics would change, the whole world would know. Remember the ‘faster than light neutrinos’?)

        2. Physical information, like energy cannot be destroyed. It is not ‘lost’ to the ‘heat bath’ it simply changes. Order and information are separate things; a pile of ashes and smoke has the same physical information as the book that was burned.

          One of the interesting results of the LHC and high energy collisions is that we *can* separate out quarks from gluons (And vice versa.) to some extent. In the case of top quarks this is 100%; they do not last long enough to ‘settle’ into a hadron.This has in fact allowed us to very accurately test QCD predictions and the properties of quarks.

          1. The more squashed the ELECTRON cloud gets, the more spread-out the range of momenta has to get. That’s called Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. It could quit moving if it spread out more, but that would mean not being as near the nucleus, and having higher potential energy. Big momenta mean big kinetic energies. So the cloud can lower its potential energy by squishing in closer to the nucleus, but when it squishes in too far its kinetic energy goes up (IT CANNOT EXCEED THE SPPED OF LIGHT “c”) more than its potential energy goes down. So it settles at a happy medium, with the lowest possible energy, and that gives the cloud and thus the atom its size.

            But actually inside proton, the gluons movement exceeds the the speed of light – due to absence of color separation and monopole type, color confinement – unlike photons, which separate charges – but lacks an electric charge ?

  17. If you want to add a pinch of color to your face midday, consider
    stocking up on a stick of cream blush or a gel-based cheek blusher.
    We all love beauty but for most it is simply an expense that we
    use to buy the beauty products that we like in stores or malls but what if there was a way that you could profit from the top of the line beauty products.
    And, when it comes to extraordinary beauty and comfort in kitchens and bathroom comforts, granite countertops are the single most
    products to consider.

  18. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really
    well written article. I will make sure to
    bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

  19. Why electric poles are separated unlike magnetic poles ?
    What influence magnetism or cosmic inflation makes to separate electric charges ?
    What happens to charges when magnetism is monopole ?
    Why electron is negatively charged, eventhough it consists electron and positron (any symmetry breaking by magnetism or Higgs h) ? – what it’s relation to electron’s mass and size ?

    1. … What influence magnetism or cosmic inflation makes, to separate electric charges – I mean, “involution”.
      There is both – ve charge and + ve charge, at once – but due to quantum decoherence we measure only negative charge ?

      1. If you are asking whether magnetism or inflation somehow ‘hides’ a positive charge that accompanies a negative charge then no. Firstly inflation is no longer occurring (And universal expansion is a large scale phenomena.) If it were responsible in some way when we made say, electrons we’d be able to measure both charges. magnetism is just electric charge turned about, so that’s the same as asking if light causes light to be bright.

        Electrons are not made of negative electrons and positive positrons; this is a misunderstanding of another article here. They are made of negative electrons and negative ‘anti-positrons’ (Positrons are made of positrons and ‘anti-electrons’.) It is in fact impossible for symmetry breaking to mix particles with different charges (among other things.)

        The electron has no ‘size’ it is a ‘point particle’. Its mass is (roughly) related to how strongly its constituent particles is mixed by the Higgs field.

        1. Thank you Kudzu, my doubt is, space expanded (inflation), magnetic monopole became dipole. After a distance of “c” photons released.
          Bound electron and core proton&neutron were like cloud. Electron separated by energy as a charge into EM field extended and diminishes at distance – unlike color confinement.

          So the speed of light is constant at EM – means, magnetism keep poles of the charges within speed of light – but according to distances, attractive or repulsive.
          It is correct or not ?

          1. … Sorry “bond electrons”.
            I think there is no discreet borders between electron, proton and neutron.
            Inflation was stopped before color charges would separate ?

          2. Right, so I think you are suggesting that magnetic monopoles are like protons, a bound state of electromagnetic ‘things’ and that inflation caused these to be torn apart into dipoles, electrons and photons, our current ‘usual stuff’.

            The big problem with using inflation to explain things is that it occurred before nearly everything else; after it ended particles were produced. (Protons and neutrons didn’t even form until ‘long after’ inflation ended.) While it would have torn apart any ‘pre-universal’ structures it tends to come too late to do anything.

            Inflation would also disrupt protons and neutrons; color confinement is powerless against a large enough spatial expansion rate. What matters is the force’s strength. If you look up ‘big rip’ scenarios you will see this. First gravity is overcome as galaxies, then star systems fail, then electromagnetism as ordinary matter breaks up then finally the strong force as protons and neutrons are destroyed.

            Right now we’re not asking ourselves ‘Why are monopoles impossible?’ but ‘ARE monopoles impossible?’ Maybe a theory will arise or be proven that gives us an explanation for their absence and we’ll be able to say ‘There are no monopoles because of X’ There are already theories that don’t predict them.

            On the other hand, maybe we’ll actually detect them tomorrow; people are looking. Many theories predict monopoles produced after inflation. They are similar to dark matter particles in that they are hard to create but those produced after inflation should be detectable. (Current experiments suggest they must be heavier than 600 GeV/c2.)

            So at the moment we don’t have a proven explanation for why there are no monopoles because we’re not sure they’re not right under 9or passing through!) our noses.

            Also to answer you earlier question, just like an electric charge makes a ‘bar magnet’ (+ and – magnetic charge.) a magnetic monopole would make a ‘bar electric’ (+ and – electric charge in one particle.)

          3. Thank you Mr. Kudzu, I agree 100% with you – particularly, the first and last paragraphs of your comment (sept 19, 5:22) is awesome to me.

            The parameters of monopole you mentioned in first and last paragraphs are the “manifestation of space itself” – is my deep belief.

    1. True, unfortunately. The strange thing is that comments on front page articles which contain URLs in the body seem to be queued for moderation, while these spams with the very prominent “website” link on the top get through.

      1. They’re mostly harmless though surely? Does anyone follow those links? They only seem to have an impact on articles like this where few have anything to add or discuss at any rate.

        1. I guess the purpose of these spams is not so much to make people follow the links directly but to inject these links into websites with a high Google ranking. Anyway, I think the principle should always be to make the spammers’ lives as hard as possible and to try to minimize the profit of this scum of the net.

  20. It rained here and there was a lot of moon light the next night. Also those effects have to be in a certain area or you just won’t see them.

Leave a Reply


Buy The Book

A decay of a Higgs boson, as reconstructed by the CMS experiment at the LHC


It’s always fun and interesting when a measurement of an important quantity shows a hint of something unexpected. If yesterday’s results from DESI (the Dark

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 04/05/2024

I hope that a number of you will be able to see the total solar eclipse next Monday, April 8th. I have written about my

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 04/01/2024