A Weak Geomagnetic Storm Is Underway
A disturbance in our planet’s magnetic environment, caused by the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) from Active Region 1520 on the Sun, is causing the appearance of aurorae right now. The activity is indicated in the above plot of the K index, a measure of the condition of geomagnetic field. The red bars show that the disturbance is causing the field to change rapidly, which often leads to displays of aurorae.
However, this event was a little weaker than it could have been due to the glancing blow that the CME struck yesterday, so the only observations of aurorae are at high latitudes (above about 60º). However, a few observers at lower latitudes saw the lights last night, such as Brad Goldpaint who captured this image of auroras reflecting from Sparks Lake in central Oregon:
(Credit & copyright: Brad Goldpaint, courtesy of Spaceweather.com)
There are no strong active regions heading onto the solar disk now, so we’re out of the woods for a while.
Galileo helped to create a new science partly because of his extraordinary skills as an observer, which enabled him to create and use the first telescope. These drawings represent sunspots— whose existence proved that the sun was not the perfect, unchanging body that traditional Aristotelian cosmology considered it to be. Galileo’s work received strong support for a long time from Maffeo Barberini, the future Pope Urban VIII, though his Dialogues on Two World Systems and Copernican views would eventually be condemned by Rome.