Spectacular Northern Lights display seen in Southern Ontario
Amateur photographers capture stunning shots
Southern Ontario got a show-stopping look at the northern lights Thursday and there may be a repeat performance this weekend. The Aurora Forecast from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed it dipping into the southern part of the province. Kevin Gilbert of Burlington was one of the amateur photographers searching them out in the night sky. “I’ve never taken a shot – or shots – like I did last night,” he told CTV News. Gilbert made an hour-long drive, finally managing to spot the aurora near Arthur and Kitchener. “As far as taking northern lights shots, it’s 100 per cent [my] number one and I hope I get more of them.”
Coronal ejection causes the aurora
Senior space weather forecaster Shawn Dahl said a few days ago there was a coronal ejection, a massive outburst of plasma from our sun, causing an aurora in Earth’s upper atmosphere. “I thought it was fantastic,” he said. The aurora does more than provide a light show, Dahl added. The magnetic storm requires the monitoring of technical system which manage the interconnected power grid and satellite communications across North America. “Because our magnetic field is having this [magnetic] storm and it’s intensified, that means the natural electric currents that flow around our planet increase and the higher we get on those scale levels, that’s when this can show up on systems power operators use,” said Dahl.
A once in a decade event
Victor Arora, the University of Waterloo’s observatory coordinator, calls the display a once in a decade event. “I think it’s really just an inspirational thing for people, a chance for them to understand a little bit about the universe and a little bit about the earth as well, this kind of wonderful rock we’re hurtling around our star on.” The geomagnetic storms are expected to continue but weaken as we move into the weekend. To catch an aurora in southern Ontario, explains Arora, people will need to get far from the city lights and hope for a good forecast. “Nature always has surprises for us, so if you’re not looking up, if you’re not checking for these things, there’s a good chance you might miss it,” he said. “If it’s cloudy or snowy, it’s probably safe for you to turn in for the evening.”
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