Off topic: August Auroras Light Up North American Skies

I am honestly a little bummed out about this. The part that I’m bummed out about is the fact that I missed it. I did not get notification from NASA’s website that I thought I set up properly to find out when there is a large geomagnetic storm. It turns out that this storm didn’t get as far south is where I live, close to the great city of New York. Our Canadian friends got to see it along with folks living in the US near the border. The sky was clear the last couple nights, and in spite of the gibbous moon, I would have ran out for this. There is always a chance some faint colors could have been seen.

If you are interested, you can go to spaceweather.com to get updates yourself. NASA has some great resources on this subject that I find the government in general has a lot of great resources on a lot of subjects.

As an aside, when I decided to re-insulate my home shortly after buying it, I used the government guidelines, and found inexpensive ways to have measurable effects on increasing the efficiency of my heating system by improving my home insulation. For about $300, my home became noticeably less drafty the following winter.

It reminds me of a funny story though from my time in the military. There was a large geomagnetic storm (a G3 or G4), that brought the aurora as far south as Kentucky. The post that I was at when this happened, was north of that. A friend of mine knew of my interest in all things astronomy and came over to my apartment. He said he heard on the radio that there was an aurora. In fact people, or perhaps commedians, were calling in to the radio station saying that aliens or people from the base, or both, were messing with the sky. None if that was of course true, but there was a beautiful if somewhat erie green and red glow in the sky that was the aurora. We ran outside and actually drove to a rural spot on the edge of a farmer’s field to enjoy the view. While we were there we were joking about how funny it would be if some farmer, hearing the stories about aliens on the radio and seeing two figures standing on the edge of the road next to his fields took a shot at us. We are imagining a headline, “two lieutenants found dead in in a farmer’s field”. Regardless of military service lieutenants are known for doing dumb and or crazy things, which is what we found funny. As I write this, it doesn’t seem as funny, but then, to us, the idea was hilarious.

Nevertheless the only thing that happened was that I had a great view of an amazing astronomical event. It remains the only time I have seen the aurora, and what a sight it was.

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