definately worth a look. You know when you look at clouds long enough and see shapes of animals, things, shifting shapes etc?

the AB has the same effect but in colour and much more spooky (perhaps cos were all used to clouds?)

mix in a little herbal tobacco of your own devising and it is very easy to convince yourself the thing is in some way communicating with you (and I saw the AB in Northern Norway years before I read His Dark Matter - but when I read it I knew the author had seen the AB and where the idea of 'Dust' came from).

had to remind myself at first I wasnt looking at SFX

go North if you get the chance, it aint the same on the screen.
Yeah, Northren Lights are very impressive. Unfortunately, the closer you are to a town, the less impressive they are - my home is 16 miles from Aberdeen, so we got to see some quite nice displays.

It is sometimes hard to comprehend the sheer size of what's going on. They come in different varieties, too - my mum once saw green and blue "columns", going perpendicular to the ground.

I also remember reading that fear of Northern Lights is called aurorophobia :)
I've seen the Southern Lights (someone more schooled in Latin that me will be able to give their 'proper' name) but not the Northern Lights.

They were predominately green and cloud-like with purple 'ribbons' shooting through them - which sometimes seemed to leap out of the sky straight towards you :eek!!!!:

I only watched for 15 minutes or so but remember thinking that such a spectacle shouldn't be as silent as it was... so my brain started filling in the gaps, so to speak, and supplied Space Invader sound effects! :)

mejane said:
I've seen the Southern Lights (someone more schooled in Latin that me will be able to give their 'proper' name) but not the Northern Lights.


Aurora australis ? I missed the Northern lights the last time they were seen down this way-around 12 years ago .The local BBC weatherman has an interest in aerial phenomena like meteor showers and such and alway mentions if a solar flare has occurred and an aurora is possible but I havent seen one yet .
mejane said:
I only watched for 15 minutes or so but remember thinking that such a spectacle shouldn't be as silent as it was... so my brain started filling in the gaps, so to speak, and supplied Space Invader sound effects! :)
Do you wear glasses or have metal fillings? There has been a lot written recently (not sure if there was anything in FT) about people actually hearing the aurora.

I'm no scientist but I believe the metal frame of the glasses or filling picks up radio waves and then vibrates, and this vibration is sent directly into your skull, meaning some people hear "wooshing" sounds while others hear nothing.

Links (I'll add more if I find them)--
Aurora goes nuts

"On Oct. 23rd, Earth glided into a solar wind stream flowing from a large coronal hole, which triggered a fitful 4-day-long geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers as far south as Montana and Michigan in the United States spotted auroras."

lifted from

anyone notice anything in the UK?
Given the goings-on in the 'Solar Disturbance' thread, time to revive this one, I think. Oddly enough, or not, almost exactly a year later. I thought I read once that 'peak' auroral activity tends to be in the spring (????).

I've only ever seen them once, myself, a couple of years ago when I was in Minnesota for a month in the autumn. Sort of a pulsating green glow. A friend who went to school in Michigan still recalls with wonder the curtain/ribboning display she saw around thirty years ago.

But as I've lived my entire life at either 21N or 39N, I count myself fortunate having even seen a modest display on that one occasion. [By comparison, London is 51N].
Apparently the pinkish lilac colour I saw back in '92 was caused by protons from the solar wind interacting with nitrogen in the atmosphere;

the other, more vivid colour was green, caused by cold oxygen.

Finally there was a burst of red, also apparently caused by nitrogen, perhaps at a different height.

My missus was heavily pregnant at the time and I dragged her outside to watch it in the cold, but she couldn't stay for the whole show, so she went indoors.
But me and the neighbours watched it to the end.
On an entirely different note. the Starfish nuclear test created an artificial aurora;
this test was a one megaton blast at 400 km altitude, the height of the International Space station today;

here is a video with some nice non threatening music;
the first image is the artificial aurora it created when the charged particles hit the top of the Earth's atmosphere;

the other images are the explosion seen from several angles...

as you can see, an explosion in space is spherical and symmetrical,

quite pretty and totally soundless.
July 4th, 1975. I was in northern Wisconsin and it was between 11 and midnight. We were at a fishing resort and had just come in off the lake from fishing, (I was on vacation with my parents). They weren't colored, just white, but it was like a huge sheer gauze curtain, that was illuminated, being blown in the wind. I stood and watched it, and someone called me to come in. I said, "Are you crazy? I may never see them again!"
This pic was shot in Cornwall by a pal of mine in April, 2001:
I can see a bright green glow (and have been watching it for the last 30 mins) to the north and stretching to the nw, not as impressive as the previous a.b. I have seen, but pretty good for s. Cornwall. Will keep an eye on it to see if it improves, probs. with broken cloud tho. :)
I was stuck in the middle of York, in a part with bad light pollution; but Wednesday night a few of us saw some faint curtain effects; similar to images of the display over New York the same night.

I have seen it much brighter than that, but further out into the countryside.
My goodness, I usually don't worry about light pollution, but it can be very frustrating sometimes.

one of the other people who saw it wondered if the aurora has ever been the subject of religious/superstitious worship;
I can't think of any auroral religions myself; any clues?
If you take some magic mushrooms you can see some great aurora's and you don't even have to leave the house.I think there are even whole religions based on them. Isn't that what they refer to as 'mana from heaven' and just in time for halloween too.
May the ghosts of old creation smile upon thee.
Sodium Street Lights and general light pollution caused by bad design and the wasting of energy, are EVIL! :mad:
Fully Agree there Androman.

I have seen the Northern Lights loads, they are absolutely gorgeous and well worth going outside in the freezing cold to watch. Best display I saw was a couple of years ago, after giving up and coming inside, I found I could still see them from my south facing bedroom window. Amazing.
Anyone know how long the aurora are predicted to last.

I had a brief look but couldn't see anything for cloud and living in Hull didn't think there'd be much chance of seeing anything. Being as Eburacum saw them in York I might stand a chance if it's still around, or have I missed the boat? :(
As mentioned on the whinge thread I was on a plane last night and you could see them from the left hand windows. I was on the right side and all I could see were people's backsides leaning over to have a look. The captain even dimmed the cabin lights to make them clearer.

The plane was far too packed to actually get up and have a look as well, so I could have cried and felt very cheated!

Just to put the cherry on the cake I received a PM telling me the skies had cleared and the person I'd been with had been watching them too!!!! :hmph:
Chances of Seeing ?

It is somewhat of an ambition of mine to see the aurora.
I was wondering if anyone could tell me how likely I would be to see them if I planned a trip to the Arctic Circle/Finland/Iceland Orkney ??
Does it occur regularly, can its appearance be predicted ?
Any help appreciated.
I was flying back from sort of up that way and they were spectacular above Edinburgh.
A regular peek at this site will give you a good idea of the chances of seeing aorora in the uk. The magnetometer readings are taken at York uni. and constantly updated. Any sign of red on the graph means a good chance. Everything has gone quiet at the moment.:(
Germans call UFO hotline as sky lights up
Fri 31 October, 2003 17:47

BERLIN (Reuters) - An amateur astronomer who monitors reports of UFO sightings says he has been flooded by calls from terrified Germans after a solar flare caused brilliantly coloured skies over Germany this week.

Werner Walter, who runs a call-in service called UFO-FON, said he had disconnected his phone at 3 a.m. after more than 30 calls from people reporting eerie, streaking lights in the sky.

"People were calling from all over Germany," he told Reuters. "They told me of how they were witnessing burning skies, that is the term most people used. Especially elderly people were upset," he said.

An abnormally strong solar flare that erupted this week caused a dazzling display of polar lights, normally seen only in far northern arctic regions, in various parts of Germany.

One couple from the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen reported what they feared was a nuclear explosion in Denmark.

"They stood at the beach, looking out to the sea towards Denmark and told me the entire horizon was deep red with small explosions," he said. "They were terrified. I had to spend nearly 30 minutes trying to calm them."
Very cool, ryn. As the man said, the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine. :cool:,9865,1073527,00.html
Orbiting astronaut sees mystery lights

Thursday October 30, 2003
The Guardian

Astronaut Ed Lu returned on Monday from a six-month tour as science officer on the international space station with loads of memories and at least one nagging puzzle: what caused the mysterious flashes of light he saw while studying the Earth's aurora from orbit?

Lu, who was a research astrophysicist before becoming an astronaut in 1994, estimates that he spent 100 hours watching the northern and southern lights during half a year in space. The auroral light show, which takes place well below the station's 380km altitude, shimmers and pulses depending on natural variations in incoming solar particles trapped by the Earth's magnetic field.

On three occasions - July 11, September 24 and October 12 - Lu saw something markedly different: flashes as bright as the brightest stars, which lasted only a second then blinked off again. In one instance, he called crew-mate Yuri Malenchenko over to the window to see the bursts. Lu says they appeared very different from the random but harmless retinal flashes that many astronauts experience when heavy cosmic rays hit their eyeballs.

Given his limited time and ability to research the problem in space, Lu has tried to rule out other obvious explanations. The flashes weren't like sun glint from dust particles outside the station, which rotate and last longer than a second. Nor were they meteors, which look like linear streaks. Viewing conditions were wrong for a satellite or other artificial object. They only appeared in the direction of the aurora. And Lu checked weather maps, which showed no lightning storms below at the time of his observations. All of which leads him to the tentative conclusion that he saw some previously unreported pheno-menon associated with the aurora.
Seen from the Isle of Man earlier this evening 20th November 2003. I have posted pictures, not particularly great - here .
brian ellwood said:
A regular peek at this site will give you a good idea of the chances of seeing aorora in the uk. The magnetometer readings are taken at York uni. and constantly updated. Any sign of red on the graph means a good chance. Everything has gone quiet at the moment.:(
Ooh, have to keep a watch on that. Red at the moment I see, but cloudy here, just reflecting street lights so nothing to see.

Saw a lovely display last night from Edinburgh! Amazing you can see them this far south, was also surprised to see them nearly in the middle of Edinburgh. Shame I wasn't somewhere darker, would have been really gorgeous then. Bet 99% of people were walking about, completely oblivious to it. :(
I checked the site last night and found the red bit rising fast, and sure enough, a peek outside showed a green aurora once again in Kernow, but too much broken cloud to get a good photo:(