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6th of Nov. 07


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Aurora Season 2003





Overview of year 2003

  • Aurora year 2003 was quite unusual and evokes some pretty mixed feelings. In the future 2003 will be remembered by it's extreme solar activity in late October and it's record setting X28 megaflare during that period. This extreme solar activity and the monstrous CMEs that it launched right towards the earth made the year possibly the best aurora year in record for many. Yet, in southern Finland this was not the case, not at all. Here the year will remembered because of almost permanent cloud cover from late october till early December and by few nice, but EXTREMELY short lived Coronal Hole Stream fired auroral substorms. Almost all my pictures from 2000, 2001 and 2002 were from CME auroras, but i am not sure did i see ANY CME auroras in good or even decent viewing conditions this year.

  • It seems like the CH stream auroras do differ quite greatly from CME auroras. During the good old days when our auroras were CME auroras, one could actually "read" the display and make some conclusion what it is about to do next, but with these CH stream auroras it is getting increasingly difficult. During the good old days an auroral arc high in the sky brought a decent show almost every time, but nowadays such arc doesn't seem to tell a thing. There can be an auroral arc, even tall one, for hours and hours and hours and nothing happens. When something happens it comes so fast and is over so quickly that you can hardly realize what just happened. Making decent composition or thinking about correct exposure times will almost quarantee that you will not be fast enough to get decent pictures.

  • Shapes and formations of these CH stream auroras also seems to differ from the "ray rich" CME auroras. Nowadays the substorms often have very high number of bright belts and bands very low in the horizon, but very few tall rays or curtains. With the earlier CME auroras the number of such belts and bands was much lower, but the number of tall rays and curtains was very very much higher! Substorms of the decent CME auroras also seemed to last usually much much longer!

  • Somehow it also feels like reading magnetometers and comparing that info to the aurora has got more difficult than before....maybe. Very quick, but not great deviations will make lights as before, but nowadays you see more and more very large peaks that don't bring ANY aurora at all for this latitude. I am not sure, but i really feel that the things have got much more complicated than before. Anymore you just can't be sure about anything with these lights.

  • Oh...did i remember to tell that this was the most lousy aurora year that i can remember, at least for my home location.

  • October/November
  • October-November offered 3 IMMENSE auroral storms and very high number of CH Stream auroras. All 3 big ones were more of less clouded out and so were most of the other good ones too.

  • The first substorm on 14th of October was quite unbelievable! Despite it's short duration this glorious show of hyper active belts and bands was one of the most impressive substorms i have seen to date. Almost full moon also added little beauty to the scene.

  • 20th of October offered some nice auroras too and the AWESOME "red belly belt" seen during the first 2 minute substorm was one of the most impressive sight that i have seen during auroras so far. There were also other peples watching and the opinion was the same....it was truly something spectacular!
  • September
  • Usually September is the month of highest number of decent auroras with clear skies at my location. October may have better storms, but they are more often clouded out then than in September. This year i didn't see ANY decent storms at my location in September...Period.

  • In mid September i made my first ever voluntary trip to Finnish Lapland to see an aurora and it was quite worth it. I didn't see any good ones, but i saw aurora every night and gathered quite a bit knowledge for the next Lapland trip.

  • Ok, 24th of September display had unusually many bright belts with bright red lower edges. Those lower edge reds were the brightest lower edge reds that i have seen so far!
  • August
  • August offered 2 mediocre displays and one very good show. 18/19 show had HUGE number of bright active belts and often they were even pretty high in the sky. This was one the best auroras that i have seen. Unfortunately there was a bright moon and our August nights are not very dark, so i made drastic errors with exposures and overexposed almost all shots very very badly. When scanning i left most of the pics dark and so they look almost ok, but the reality is that the slides are not ok.

  • Then 23/24 night there was not much of a show, but there still was one of the most impressive auroral arcs that i have seen. Truly impressive big fat bright arc, but i was in the car when i saw it and it of course vanished immediately after i stopped.
  • Spring
  • Nothing really good here...there was couple active nights, but the substorms were so quick that you didn't even have time to point the camera to the right direction before they were all gone.
  • Andenes, Norway
    19-24 feb.
    Thanks to Nordlys photo contest and all the voters i got opportunity to travel northern Norway to try to see a true high lat. lights. On second evening there was a nice high lat. substorms and quite wonderful aurora. Shapes were something you won't ever see here...in southern Finland. Truly good stuff. I would never get bored of watching it...

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