Years ago I found the website SpaceWeather.com, and since then have made a yearly pilgrimage to the site in the fall and winter months. Having seen the aurora borealis probably about 7 or 8 times in my life already, it’s something I try to see whenever I get the chance, sort of like hooking up with an old friend after a long absence. The first few times I saw it I was up in the Yukon Territory for a summer. Obviously up there it’s pretty easy to see (that is, when it’s not daylight for 24 hours a day, as it very nearly was for my first few months up there). I actually remember coming out of a bar late […]

In October 2003, there was a massive release of energy from our sun. The resulting coronal mass ejection (CME) headed straight for our planet, bombarding it with a massive amount of charged particles. The official classification for the flare was an X17.2, which is one of the top three recorded solar flares in the history of our planet. Photo from here The charged particles disrupted satellite communications in space, and also lead to auroras being seen as far south as the Chicago. I was fortunate enough to be following the activity while it was happening, and was notified via email (via SpaceWeather.com) that auroras might be visible at low latitudes. At around 4am, I walked upstairs to my rooftop patio […]