Auroral Activity, 2017 July 1 – October 20

The Sun is getting very quiet very fast and the 11-year cycle seems to be coming to an end, with several ‘no sunspot days’ already. This means that most aurora will come from coronal holes with only the odd coronal mass ejection, however, out of the blue came an X 9.5 which arrived on September 7/8. Only one detection was picked up in July, and that was by Fiona Vincent who made the detection via radio on July 16. This coincided with the arrival of a G2 class solar storm.

August had 6 days with G1 class storms which gave rise to 7 sightings. The first was by Graeme Whipps from the Chapel of Garioch on August 5/6. The next event was the arrival of a coronal hole, which started on Aug 17 and gave auroral sightings for 3 days. Gordon Mackie from Caithness and Graeme Whipps both picked up the event on Aug 17/18. I saw it from my croft in Glenbarry, along with Graeme Whipps on Aug 18/19, and finally Graeme saw it again on Aug 19/20. The last sighting of the month was made by Denis Buczynski on Aug 29/30.

September produced 5 days of G1 storms, 5 days of G2 storms and 2 days of G3 storms, which gave rise to 24 auroral sightings. The first was by Graeme Whipps from the Chapel of Garioch on Sep 2/3. Sep 4/5 saw sightings by myself from Glenbarry, Graeme from the Chapel of Garioch and Gordon Mackie from Caithness. Sep 7/8 saw the arrival of a CME, something we haven’t seen for a long time, and this produced sightings by myself from Glenbarry, Graeme from the Chapel of Garioch, Denis Buczynski from Tarbatness and Gordon from Caithness. Graeme saw it again on Sep 8/9.

Denis Buczynski picked up aurora on Sep 14/15. Graeme Whipps and Denis got it again on Sep 15/16 and Graeme picked it up on Sep 16/17. Myself & Denis got it on Sep 18/19 while Graeme Whipps & Alan Tough from Hopeman got it on Sep 21/22, then Graeme and Denis saw it again on Sep 22/23. Fiona Vincent from St Andrews picked up aurora via long wave radio on Sep 27 which coincided with a G2 storm and sightings of ‘Steve’ in Canada. Sightings were made on Sep 29/30 by Graeme Whipps and Alan Tough and finally on Sep 30/Oct 1 by Graeme Whipps and Gordon Mackie.

October so far has been quiet, with only two G1 storms and one G2; however, ‘Steve’ made another appearance. Oct 11/12 saw sightings by myself from Glenbarry, James Fraser from Alness, Alan Tough from Hopeman and Denis Buczynski from Tarbatness, and Oct 13/14 produced sightings by Gordon Mackie from Caithness (aurora & ‘Steve’), James from Alness (aurora & ‘Steve’), myself from Glenbarry, Denis from Tarbatness (aurora & ‘Steve’) and Ken Kennedy from Dundee.

I received this from Gordon Mackie (thanks) and it gives a bit more insight into ‘Steve’: ‘You may have seen this already, but if not there is a short presentation on STEVE by Eric Donovan online here: – his part starts at 1hr 08min and lasts about 15min.’

A reminder of a site for those of you who are stuck in southern or light polluted areas – the webcam operated by the Shetland tourist board: It looks north and, if there is no cloud, it will give a good view of any aurora or NLC (and you can listen to the waves & sea birds).

Sandra Brantingham, Director

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