Sunday, 10 June 2018

Super Crescent & Shetland Space race

Earlier in May you may have seen a Super Crescent Moon with Venus close by to the top right a nice sight indeed on a clear night in the western sky.

It might seem that the moon was extra bright and you would be correct as it is a `Supermoon'. The Moon is at Perigee-that is , the side if the moon's elliptical orbit closest to Earth. This actually makes the moon 5% wider and almost 11% brighter.

The term Supermoon also applies to crescents as well as full Moons. We didn't see the Da Vinci Glow, also known as earth shine. This is where the sunlight reflects from the earth onto the dark lunar surface. In the northern Hemisphere, Earthshine is extra visible in spring because springtime crescent moons are high in the sky at sunset

Will Shetland be chosen for the location of the UK satellite launch pad ?, well we are down to three sites. Saxa Vord in Unst is one and the winner will be announced on the 12 June. Last week Shetland Space Centre hosted an event to introduce the locals to representatives of the UK and International space industry.

Would be great to have this in Shetland so good luck to all involved. If successful it would be operational in two years time. Shetland has a history of delivering huge infrastructure projects and the fact the  RAF have a secured site at the early warning facility at Saxa Vord all bodes well for the island.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Tingwall stars

Nights are now drawing out and we have very little darkness. The Aurora has been visible very late on but only captured by a few folk.

                      We had been visiting up at Tingwall and took advantage of a clear night with very little wind

The wind turbines cast a red reflection on Asta Loch, but to see 103 Turbines looking north would certainly be a blight on the landscape and would show up on every Aurora photograph so I hope they never get started

Although not completely dark I like the blue sky and you can also use a lower ISO which helps reduce noise.

Looking south to Scalloway, light pollution is clearly visible, especially now LED lights have been installed

                                                                                                   Looking west

          Just waited for car headlights to light up the old vicarage which adds a lot of depth to the photo

                                                                                      Another looking West

To keep up with the vents in the Shetland Night Sky join  us on facebook at Shetland Aurora Hunter.

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Monday, 16 April 2018

Brilliant Aurora

The 18 March 2018 will go down as the best Aurora display we have seen since moving to Shetland 4 years ago

                                               Steve made a rare appearance see earlier blogs ` Steve'

The density was intense and for an hour and was recorded as a G2- class storm. It started off with the green colour which was very active.

A twisting curtain with very intensive spots of high activity, then the colours became apparent, large pillars of purple rising from the green curtain

This colour reaching high into the sky providing a great scene. At this point Steve appeared high over head

It was a night to remember, especially as it is reaching the peak of low solar activity with very few sunspots visible
However this doesn't seem to stop the Aurora showing and from mid march to mid April it has shown most nights we have had clear skies.

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Friday, 30 March 2018

More of Steve

It was superb seeing `Steve' with possibly two ribbons showing, this was confirmed by NASA later. I have submitted my `Steve' photos to Aurorasaurus  who collect information on `Steve'. Check back on the previous blog for more information

After reviewing many photos posted on Shetland Aurora Hunter on facebook i was surprised that more people failed to connect with `Steve'

One person thought it was a odd cloud formation and didn't bother photographing it, another two wanted to get to too many locations and missed Steve when driving. Always try and get to one spot and ideally go to the location in the day and see how many mini spots can be used for different photos
In these two (top and bottom) you can see Steve breaking up, its like an elastic band breaking and causing a vibration in the atmosphere

If i never see it again i will always remember the night.

March will go down as a virtually spotless month and so far this year there has been 58% of it without sunspots. These increase the chance of an Aurora but as can be seen above it doesn't always require sunspots for a fantastic Aurora to occur. The solar minimum will occur 2019/20 then it will start to get better again.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

` Steve' rare Aurora in Shetland

Last Sunday 18 March 2018 will go down as one of the best but most unexpected Aurora displays we have seen so far in Shetland

The forecast was for a moderate display, so on a clear wind free night we headed out over to Bigton

As soon as we arrived we could see the Aurora with our naked eye, it was very active with pillars of colour above the large dense green area

After about 10 mins I notices a band overhead and immediately recognised this as `Steve', a vary rare form of Aurora. Steve or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement has only recently been discovered

It appears as a distinct purple ribbons with green edges and it constantly moving across the sky. NASA indicates that is can be found at low altitudes than the normal Aurora

The European Space Agency who has been studying this, has published a detail account in the journal Science Advances (March 14). Since it was discovered it has been seen in the UK, New Zealand, Alaska, Canada and the northern United States.

According to NASA Steve can be found south and lower down the normal Aurora activity and can last anything from 20 mins up to an hour. It stretches East - West. A green colour associated with Steve is usually short lived

It is also known by some astrophotographers as a Proton Arc but in fact it is a subauroral Arc.

A Proton Arc is subvisual, diffused and broad where as this Subauroral Arc is narrow, bright and structured

It seems that it was first seen in 2015 and has been viewable about 30 times. Observations occur when there is increased Aurora activity

Steve seems to connect to different magnetic field lines closer to the equator so it is seen further south than the normal Aurora. When we saw it, it was overhead about  60 degree north originally seen as a long purple line then it split and looked like a broken line. Some think its like an elastic band which when it breaks causes a charge particles bounce back towards earth. This may have been caught below because just after it faded away

see more on Facebook at Shetland Aurora Hunter.

More Steve photos to come in the next blog