Monday, October 13, 2008

Auroras And Plasma Bullets

So I was out getting groceries Saturday morning when I got a call from my buddy at, Dr. Tony Phillips. The good Doctor informed me of a large Solar wind heading our way and to expect Auroras. Great, no clouds but we have a huge 90% Full Moon out that night, usually you can't see any Auroras when the Moon is out in full force, takes away the contrast.

Thought I'd head out that night anyways and much to my surprise I was able to get some Aurora shots. Bonus I took a shot of the almost full Moon and Orion rising in the east, like a sleeping giant come to life, yes our friend Orion is back, so are the cold temperatures he brings with him, man was it cold, -10c, well I mean cold for this time of year, especially since I was wearing a summer jacket. Got some Aurora shots then thought to myself, hey I'll come back after the Moon sets , which was going to be around 4:00 am, I should get some even better shots.

At that time the Aurora (above image) was almost over so I thought I'd head out of town to see what I could see Aurora wise, but get this, I ran into a train, yes at 4:15 am I ran into a train, well not into it but you know what I mean.

So I'm looking to see how long it is, great not long, it just seemed long because it STOPPED! That's right it stopped, got out of the car to take a pic of it stopped, and then guess what happened?, a truck pulls up behind me, all this at 4:15 am. I was going to take a pic of the truck but thought twice when I saw the look on the guys face, about as happy as me.

After half an hour of the train stopping it started to move, of course by then it started to get light outside, I just went home.

An interesting tidbit of info here, seems they may have just found out why the Auroras dance with the help of the "THEMIS MISSION" or " Time History Of Events And Macroscale Interactions During Substorms Mission" for long, those crazy scientists and their acronyms. To sum it up, apparently the Solar wind's charged particles stretch our magnetic field much in the same way you stretch an elastic band, when the magnetic field can no longer stretch it flicks back the Solar plasma, which they call Plasma Bullets back to Earth, the explosion gives off it's energy in the form of harmless light energy, the crazy lights we call the Auroras.

I'll leave you now with a clip of 72 images I took over a time frame of 40 minutes of the Auroras I took that night, I also put a sample message from Dr. Tony at the beginning, doesn't he sound like a friendly guy?


Texas Travelers said...

Nice post.

Great photos.

I liked the celestial viewing also.

Thanks for the visit,

PS: is a fav.

Virtual Voyage said...

Fascinating - never seen this here. Had a little trouble getting the clip to run, Bob - may be a slow connection?

Swubird said...


Fantastic video, and an hilarious story about being caught between the train and the truck. At 4:00 in the morning, who would have guessed? You continue to amaze me with your dedication to astronomy. You should have became a professional. Then you'd get paid for all this work. Plus, free coffee and donuts.

-10 degrees! Ouch! I get testy when the thermometer drops below 70.

Happy stargazing.

Sherer said...

ah excellent! Dr. tony does sound like a nice dude.

I have never seen an aurora, but I would certainly like too.

let me think of a good question.......

Ah got one. What do you know about the conspiracy of the magnetic poles changing in 2012, and the like? Along with sun spots we could have a crazy year comin up!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Troy, gotta like Dr. Tony Phillips, he does a lot , well he is, does a great job.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks VV, you might try if you haven't already FireFox browser, IE7 doesn't work well with YouTube.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, well said swubird, when I was at the Dominion Radio Telescope in Penticton they were on lunch and had donuts,lol\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Jesse you would really like the Auroras as everyone who has never seen them would.

Ah the Earth's magnetic reversal, just know about it from what I've read and the specials I've seen on TV.

We are in the midst of a reversal as we speak, we have one on average every 250,000 years and they take I think 6-10 thousand years to fully complete.

As far as having one by 2012, probably not, we would have seen more changes by now, no one is coming forward with a date for completion, this 2012 thing will be a lot more interesting then the 2000 scare we had, I had to get back up electrical systems in place for our mall,lol, you might remember nothing happened.\m/\m/

self taught artist said...

love the pics, especially the train...very eerie.
hey did you see in the news about the first ever newspaper in space? i haven't read it yet but of course thought of you.
i'm convinced you will make your millions somehow in outer space.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

How AWESOME you saw auroras during a full moon while I was covering my blinds with a blanket so I could sleep, Bob. :D

Actually we were camping during that time and didn't catch a hint of an aurora. And by some coincidence we were stopped by a train at 2 AM for about twenty minutes during our travels too. I'll have to post a pic. LOL Jeff and I couldn't believe it. Why does a train stop right in the middle of the road when they have all that track?

Great pics and post as always. Jeff and I love your blog. :D

It's good to be back but we loved our 600 mile autumn tour and had a heart time turning for home. The leaves all starting flying off the trees, even swept into the open windows of the car, so it wouldn't have lasted anyway.

Hugs, JJ

Genie said...

I've only seen an aurora once and if I didn't know that it was predicted that night, I'd have never have noticed. It was just the thinnest red haze low in the Bakersfield, Ca. sky one night when I was a little girl. But it was an aurora! I've never seen the amazing streams of light you captured here, I hope to see it one day. I love that you put the recording on the video! Nice touch!

Seeing the aurora on you blog is a little bit more like seeing it for myself than seeing it on the news or seeing photos of it in National Geographic. Awesome work!

Susanne49 said...

I like your first photo the best, I can see the auroras, great!

Thanks for your interesting post again, Bob! :-)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Paula, Yes I heard of the first newspaper, only costs 20m pounds to get it there,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks a lot Genie, it was quite the Solar storm, the Auroras were to have been seen in the States as well.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol JJ, those crazy trains, I couldn't believe it stopped, probably figured it was 4 in the morning and no one would be out and about. Hey make sure you post lots of pics of your tour!!\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks Susanne.\m/\m/

kml said...

Who would have thought at 4:00 in the morning that there would be all this commotion going on - and you being caught in the middle of it. Doesn't it figure!

Love the first pic - and the train one came out really good too!

Will said...

Nice photo as usual! And as I have said before, I am very jealous of all your auroras. And now I am jealous of you getting to write about "plasma bullets". I want to write a post about plasma bullets. Stay tuned.

Happy WW to any who participate in that!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Kathy, who knew at 4 in the morning,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Will, can hardly wait for your Plasma post.\m/\m/

Texas Travelers said...

Just dropped by for another look. I always fine something I missed when I am in a hurry. Great stuff here.

I got up at 3:00 AM the other morning to see the Moon occult the Seven Sisters. Drat, some high thin clouds had move in and they were the ones occulting the stars. Oh well, next time.

Come visit anytime,
Troy and Martha

PS: Alaska Sunday Hope, AK photos are up today.

Livingsword said...

Hi Bob,

Be sure to say “hi and thanks” to Dr. Tony from all of the Astrostuffites that visit your blog Bob!

That Orion Syndicate is cold hearted! (Must be why they are green?)

Bob did you spy what was in the train?

Very cool images as usual Bob!

Anna said...

Wow Bob, these are great. I moved to Aurora ten years ago, and I think I had one Aurora on the sky above my house, oh well. BTW these are great images again...and the train. You know I have this habit of counting all the train units, lol, so I actually don't mind being is kind of entertaining to count them, time them and figure out how fast is the train going, or multiply all units by each train length, so when you find out that the train is actually 2 km long, that's wow! Ok, I am going now...Anna :)

Anna said...

...yea just getting my subscription...Anna :))))