Aurora Season 2001


Place: Valkeakoski, Finland (Geographic Longitude = 24E; Geographic Latitude = 61N; Corrected Magnetic Latitude = 57).


Fall 2001


  • 15/16, September

    Display started very rapidly near 19.30 UT when a moderately bright belt emerged and moved from north-west to north and back. The belt was very quickly followed by two simultaneous faint arcs top of each other and some faith rays. Heightness of the upper arcs was maybe near 30 degrees and max heightness of the rays was somewhere near 40 to 50 degrees.
    Those two arcs after the start display gives some high hopes about the future and I thought that maybe there was an chance to see at least decent display first time this fall, but....it was not to be. The display didn't get bright at all and despite it's somewhat promising appearance it didn't do anything special. Just a faint piece of ....magnetic disturbance. ;-)

    So far this fall has been without any competition the most pathetic fall in last 4 years. Partly because of astonishing amount of cloudy weather and partly because of not so stormy auroral activity.



  • 13/14, September

    Very marginal sighting. Little after 20 UT there was few very very faint couple of degrees high rays under 10 degrees from the horizon in the north west.. Rays lasted maybe 1 or 2 minutes and then faded away.
    About 30 minutes later little more brighter green belt emerged and moved from west to east. Also this time the aurora was under 10 degrees from the horizon and lasted only about 1 to 2 minutes. There was also clouds in that direction so the aurora was partly behind the clouds, but the movement and the color was clearly visible. It was an aurora, no question about it...at least in my mind.




  • 22/23, August

    In the evening I noticed from the internet that earth's magnetic field had become somewhat unstable and that the solarwind speed had increased considerably, so I decided to give it a try. Maybe something could happen. I arrived to the summer cottage little after 10PM (19 UT) and at that time the northern sky was somewhat cloudy and also remained that way close to an hour. Then near 11.30 PM (20.30 UT) the sky cleared and right after it also a classic 10 to 15 degree high green auroral arc became visible at the north. At this point the conditions looked very promising. :-) Little by little the arc got brighter and brighter. I also started to made some lens check to find out which of my two lenses would be better for this coming display. Because the arc was in my mind pretty "low" I thought that 50mm could do the job, but.....right after 12PM (21 UT) I knew I made a bad choice...AGAIN!!!

    When the bell rang at midnight, the owl started shout and the northern lights lit up the northern sky. Nice line of 30 to +40 degree high rays formed above the lake before me and....I ran to chance my 50mm lens to 28mm lens. The bright part didn't last more than maybe 2-5 minutes and I missed the best parts, but still got some photos. The start of the display was somewhat bright but it faded very quickly and after that there was some lone rays and somewhat irregular arc like feature. After 1.00 AM (22.00 UT) also some wave like pulsation was to be seen at the north, although it's heightness was no more than max 30 to 40 degrees. Anyway, it was very pretty brief display and I liked it very much! :-)



  • 18/19, August

    Very faint display visible "starting" 12PM (21 UT) and I left home already before 2 PM (23 UT). Still saw some rays up 25 degrees and also 10-15 degree high greenish arc from time to time. Which is all VERY surprising when you look at the Kiruna's magnetogram graph, because at that time there isn't much happening (!!!), but still I am sure that I saw an aurora...In a way this aurora did set the "record" of being saw in most "stable conditions" ever (in my life). Before this smallest deflection of the graph has been at least over 200nT's, but this time there was hardly any deflection at all....Weird.

    Well, of course very often with in a storm there is moments when that magnetogram graph doesn't do big peaks, but despite of that the aurora is visible...so maybe it was not so weird after all....


  • 17/18, August

    This was the first large aurora of the fall 2001 for me. :-) My observation session started near 11PM (20 UT) and ended little before 4AM (1 UT). Almost whole time the aurora was pretty large, for hours it's heightness was 90 degrees or more! But surprisingly the aurora was so faint almost whole time that there just wasn't any bright colours visible at all, except few brief moments. Those few moments icluded one fairly nice looking green belt, which had a shape of an fish hook and few tall green rays. Also during the night there was some nice but faint multiple arcs and time to time also nice corona. Still in all this was really an interesting and surprisingly faint large display...

    Because it's faintness it gived again one good lesson regarding relationship between visual appearance (especcially brightness) and measured (global?) Kp... At my latitude many people seem to think that big Kp is an somekind of guarantee for visually brilliant and bright display, but among the many other displays in the past, this one showed something else....This had an Kp between 5 and 6 and was large, but no brighter than the very tiny display on 13/14 of August!!! Infact very often when the Global (?) Kp is somewhere between 4 and 5, we do get "million" times brighter auroras than this was....apparently because of local substorms. So wait for intense substorms not only large Kp!!!

    Anyway, it was truly wonderful to see an large aurora again after the aurora free summer. When a tall rays started rise from the twilight sky and extended up to the zenith...there really some celebration in the air. Like an seeing an old friend first time in years! The first moments were really packed full of hope and excitement...I even almost opened gift beer can ;-) But then woke up to the reality (maybe?) and decided to save it for to some little more impressive moments...

  • Visit SpaceWeather.com's August 17, 2001 Aurora Gallery for some photos!!! This display was visible also in continental Europe, example in Netherlands and Germany!

  • My pictures


  • 13/14, August

    During the previous weekend the Perseid meteor shower peak was clouded out and so were also the possible auroras...So I was pretty frustarated and hoped to catch even an last gasp of weekend aurora. Weather was nice and clear and most importantly, the northern sky seemed unusually bright! Of course there was a lots of humidity and fairly bright moon, but still, I thought that brightness could have an auroral origin. So, it encouraged me to wait and wait and see if at least something could happen....

    After 1AM (22 UT) my patience did run out, I thought I can't take this anymore. There was still this glow, but nothing else. I packed tribod and packed camera gear and decited to take a one more look to the sky before leaving. Right away, about 2 minutes after I packed my camera equipments, I thought I saw something which looked like an aurora...No arc or any other large feature, but two very faint greenish spots became visible only about 10 to 15 degrees from the horizon. Then immediatly after seeing this, the aurora sprung to life...and I run to get my tripod and unpack the camera equipment again! While I was busy with my camera, I could see how an line of clearly green 30 to 35 degree rays formed to north-west and moved towards northern sky....As soon as I got things together... it was almost gone. It was "bright" only about minute or so. Now there only few very faint tall rays were still left at the north...and I was soooo (or at least reasonably) dissappointed.

    However, the glow didn't disappear after it and I saw some nice shooting stars and I thought that just maybe the aurora could still make somekind of comeback....and it did. Although it was again very faint but still...despite of it's very modest appearance, this my best aurora so far this fall! Also, it showed that I haven't lost my ability to detect auroral glow during past 3 to 4 aurora free months and bright northern summer. One more "interesting thing" was that after the aurora, it felt like there hasn't been any aurora free summer at all, because I was immediatly fully into it. It felt strange, like I had saw my previous good aurora just days before and not months before...


  • 30/31, July

    Maybe my first aurora in July ever! About 10 - 15 minutes before 01.00 AM (22.00 UT) and 10 to 15 degrees from the north-west horizon two very faint green ray like features became visible. They lasted only about 2 or 3 seconds and after that they were long gone. The sighting itself was so uncertain that I couldn't be sure if those rays were the real thing or just a trick of an eye, but Kiruna's and Sodankylš's magnetometer had a "peak" just at that time! Although "the peak" wasn't very strong but I guess it was large enough for that aurora! Because I have seen auroras during only 200 - 300 nT negative Bz!!!


    Late Winter and Spring 2001


  • 9/10.5

    My second aurora in May this year and ever!!! :-) Near 22 UT display started suddenly with the bright belt just under 10 degrees above the Northern horizon and was quickly followed by numerous of faint under 35 degrees high rays. In few minutes activity quickly died down and 25 to 30 degree arc emerged and there on remained visible over an hour. After that aurora still activated couple of times and displayed some rays and so on before the bright twilight overshined this display near 1 UT and it was time to head for home.

    Anyway, this was very interesting a aurora to watch because severe twilight interference. Time after time I amazed how it was possible to see any aurora when there so much light "in the air". Especcially to see bright belt just above the horizon, when horizon had light blue/yellow color in it, was something what I won't soon forget. It was also fairly interesting to see how well that auroral arc was visible in these kind of light conditions. Before this night I had doupts about seeing any arc during so bright twilight. So, pleasant learning experience all night long! :-)


  • 8/9.5

    21.30-22.00 UT one very bright 10 degree high ray just above North-East horizon and few 35-40 high rays at the North-West sky.

    Seeing an aurora in these kind light condition gives a very strange feeling. Despite of my fairly young age I have seen pretty many auroras and I think I know what the aurora looks like, but....If I tell a truth, when that first auroral feature (bright ray) came up to North-East horizon, I really didn't know was it a real thing or just my imagination. So strange and weird it looked like. This was my first aurora in May ever. :-)


  • 27/28.4???

    Near 22 UT rays up to 50 degrees visible for 2-5 minutes, then only very dense mist....


  • 22/23.4

    Sometimes between 20-21 UT few rays and 30 to 40 high arc visible for 10-20 minutes, after that overcast....again!


  • 21/22.4

    Possibly one under 10 degree high arc....


  • 13/14.4

    Very nice "small" storm! This one multiple arcs, belts, rays, curtains and very nice corona, which were all fairly bright at few occations. Display was mostly green but there was also some red color in it and my friend said that he also saw some very faint blue. At it's best the display covered the whole northern sky and also a big part of the southern sky. I guess the heightness of the display was as much as 110 - 125 degrees! The best part of this aurora was it's very intense and long lasting localised and wave-like pulsation. Pulsation lasted at least 4 hours and was occationally even illuminating and very fun to watch!

  • Pictures???    Some pictures were shot. Hopefully they will turn out good...:-I


  • 11/12.4 G4 Major Storm

    Conditions during this big one were not perfect, but fairly good all the altogether...at least it wasn't raining and the brightest stars were shining all night long...

    I was outdoors from 19.00 till 01.30 (UT) and the aurora was visible all that time and mainly in the zenith and in the south. Except two "activity peaks" near 22.00 and 00.00 (UT) the aurora was not bright at all but still immense in size! Before the onset of the first peak the southern sky turned slowly red and then... all of sudden a huge bright green and red wall of light started rise from the south and very quickly it engulfed the whole sky. (In fact, it looked more like an red and green sun rise in high speed than an aurora in progress! ;-) Aurora formed a strong but fairly diffuse corona, which unfortunately was most of the time behind some scattered thin clouds. Display was clearly very bright but not the brightest ones what I have seen and I didn't saw many sharp features in it, just a huge glow! The course of the events was very much the same also during a second peak...however the second peak wasn't as bright as the first one and there wasn't even near as much red colour in it. During a last hour I also so some localised and wave-like pulsation. Anyway, it was a nice show but only for few moments. When the 6/7.4.2000 G4 storm stayed on strong all night long.

  • Pictures???    I shot very few pictures. If I got any decent ones, you will see them...


  • 09/10.4

    Small 10 - 20 degree arc and few rays up to 60 - 70 degrees, all green. Very modest auroral display.


  • 2 - 6/.4

    During one night there was a very modest display with small 10 - 20 degree high arc and some rays up to 40-50 degrees. The aurora itself wasn't very interesting because it's small size and low intensity, but the night was otherwise pretty interesting and especcially beautiful! The Swans were moving a lot all night long and we got also many impressive shooting stars with long ( about 10 degrees...) trails behind them and one true fireball. My own estimate for it's brightness is somewhere between -6 and -8 magnitudes. Anyway, that was my first good bolide in over a year and it was GREAT!


  • 30/31.3 The Great Storm: OVERCAST

    Perfectly sunny weather before and after this long waited storm, but when the storm was in progress. It was raining almost all the time. I guess we had a thickest clouds of the spring just during this period....At least it felt like that. ;-)


  • 27/28.3

    This evening I was was waiting two CMEs to arrive and eventually they did and the conditions outdoor looked very good for major auroral display, but....

    About half an hour before the local midnight one 10-15 degree high faint green arc became visible. In 20 minutes it grow to 30-40 degrees and got much brighter, also a line of 40 - 60 degree high red rays were seen at east and west. Then there was a little break in the display, it keeped it's intensity but it didn't evolved in anyway....Before it again started to grow very rapidly, Arc became as high as 70-90 degrees and the whole northern sky started glow in fairly bright white color and the red rays at the east and the west became even more higher and brighter, also one yellow spot did born near to the western horizon. Very soon the display also engulfed the zenith, formed an corona and moved 10 - 20 degrees to south....Then it faded away!

    In my mind this one looked like an major storm in progress...It didn't have many sharp features like many of the minor storms do, instead it had a lots of red and a fairly intende diffuse glow, which clearly illiminated the scenery.

  • Pictures    Not very good pictures, but...could be much worse. ;-)


  • 23/24.3

    Mostly faint greenish diffuse glow and arc. Also few rays, which at times reeched as high as 55-65 degrees.


  • 20/21.3

    I had high hopes this evening! The G2 storm was in progress when the darkness fell here in Finland and about same time the storm also subsided...like it usually does. However there was still an pretty good aurora, but nothing special. Most of time about 20-35 degree high faint green arc was visible at the north and for few minutes there was also some 80-85 high moderately bright green and at least one pretty lively and bright green belt was twisting at the north , but that was it. Nice small display but not the best ones I have seen.


  • 19/20.3

    Very impressive almost full sky Auroral display. When I arrived to my observing post at about 17.30 - 18.00 (UT) the action had allready started. At that point clearly visible Auroras allready covered allmost whole northern sky with arcs and rays. At 18.00 Auroras rapidly intensified and brightened. Bright 90 degree high green rays and curtains were seen as well as moderately bright corona and bright red rays and glow especially at the west.

    With in an hour at about 19.00 came another and much more stronger "eruption". Extremely bright 90 degree high green rays lightened up the northern sky and the lake were I was standing and a continuous bright full or partial corona lasted almost an hour. First few minutes of this "auroral eruption" were clearly among the most impressive minutes what I have ever seen. Brightness of this "beast" was truly stunning!

    Times UT and highly normative...because I don't carry an watch.

    17.30-18.00Almost 90 degree high green arc, few rays and some glow.
    18.00-20.00Within this period there was 2 separate eruptions or intense phases. Between and/or during both displays there was lot's of red color visible, 90 degree high rays, multiple arcs and bands, diffuse glow and corona. Display had a pretty much movement in it and at the times the auroras "heightness" was over 160 degrees.
    20.00-22.00Multiple arcs, bands and diffuse glow. In some point there was at least two pretty bright green belts moving around in the northern sky.
    22.00-24.00Not very bright diffuse glow. some rays and localised and wave pulsation, which was moderately bright and lasted at least two hours.

  • Pictures    Includes few of my best pictures so far...


  • 5/6.3

    Diffuse glow from 21.30 to 00.30 and 1 about 25 to 30 degree high ray near 22.00.


  • 4/5.3

    20.30-22.00Faint greenish arc.
    22.00-23.00Arc and few 20-35 degree high faint rays.
    23.00-24.00Arc and diffuse glow
    24.00-01.00Multiple arcs and faint 20-40 degree high rays.
    01.00-02.00Multiple arcs, bright green bands and curtains. 80-85 degree high bright green rays and moderately bright 50-60 degree high red rays and red glow. This was very nice!!!

  • Pictures    Scans are unfortunately very unsharp, when the original pictures are not! I'm working on to get a little sharper scans in some point of the future...


  • ???

    Pathetic arc. The "display" was so lousy that I don't even remember what was the date...


  • 20/21.1

    Faint arc, few low rays and faint curtains. Auroras were visible at least 3 hours and pictures were also taken, but...good and inexpensive scanning service is "missing". So If you know good and cheap scanning service in Finland...Please, mail me!

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