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Northern Lights


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Back about 1969  or 70, my dad wakes us up about 3 AM.  He worked nights about a mile or two away and heard that they were visible, so he came home on lunch and woke us up to see it.  The curtains of light  stretched from thezenith down to the horizon. Every  15 seconds or sos they changed color. Red, blue, green, and violet. Saw it again in 1990. That time it was green and red, with the red being very bright. This was for Cheektowaga.

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5 hours ago, Wacka said:

Back about 1969  or 70, my dad wakes us up about 3 AM.  He worked nights about a mile or two away and heard that they were visible, so he came home on lunch and woke us up to see it.  The curtains of light  stretched from thezenith down to the horizon. Every  15 seconds or sos they changed color. Red, blue, green, and violet. Saw it again in 1990. That time it was green and red, with the red being very bright. This was for Cheektowaga.

 

Was it '90 or '91?  Saw an amazing green & red one lighting up from almost directly overhead to the horizon visiting near Buffalo which sounds like the 2nd one you describe but could've sworn it was in fall '91.  (Maybe it was September '90?)

Edited by Taro T
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CarpetCrawler

I saw them once where I am a little north of NYC. At first I thought the nuclear power plant was melting down or something. They were mostly green with some magenta and bluish-purple. It seemed like the source was close, so I kept walking from street to street thinking it was just ahead. Then it hit me.......northern lights. I was truly amazed and have always hoped to see more some day.

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Quite a regular event in the winter over northern Canada, Alaska and up near the pole. Flying polar routes to Asia and back we would observe it a few times a month. Good show, sometimes spectacular.

The phenomena usually appears strongest about two nights after a solar flare event, so not too hard to forecast.

Sometimes the radiation levels near the pole get so high at altitude after solar flare events that we would refuse routes and fly more southern tracks.

Significant radiation increases above about 33,000.

 

For what its worth.

Pretty rare to see the lights on more southern routes. One night I was flying Miami to London, and it was a pretty active northern lights night. 

Everybody was commenting on the air to air freq that airplanes communicate with each other over the ocean that nobody had ever seen such activity that far south, and certainly that time of spring. It was in April.

Very unusual. 

About an hour later, got a satellite message from the company telling us that there had just been a major volcanic eruption in Iceland and to get a clearance to fly a track further south than planned to avoid any chance of getting in the ash.

That was the eruption that shut down European airspace for a week. Never happened before.

Amazing coincidence or related, I've never figured out.  

Edited by Sherpa
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This is from an article I found:

Different gases give off different colors when they are excited. Oxygen at about 60 miles up gives off the familiar yellow-green color, Oxygen at higher altitudes (about 200 miles above us) gives the all red auroras. Ionic Nitrogen produces the blue light and neutral Nitrogen gives off the red-puple and the rippled edges.

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1 hour ago, DC Tom said:

 

I remember that eruption.  April 2010, right?  

 

Not related to the aurora, BTW.  Aurorae are caused by solar activity interacting with the earth's magnetic field.  Even the largest volcanic effects don't reach that altitude (highest volcano plumes top out at 35 mi; lowest aurora effects are at 50 mi, and that very rarely).  

 

 

Yep.

Stuck on London for over a week.

 

I can't understand your altitude claim, (mi?),  but a 747 dropped all four at 37000' from ash.

 

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Now I know what you mean.

Perhaps you thought I was suggesting the volcano ash preceded aurora.

Twas the other way around.

The aurora was visible an hour and a half prior to the eruption.

As I said, it was a strange coincidence, but hadn't seen it that far south  before or after.

Regarding ash, they are avoided whenever they exist.

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