The active Sun lights up the sky
About this image
On March 28th, 2001, southern latitudes of the United States were treated to a bright and colorful auroral display. This year marks the height of the 11 year solar cycle which can create intense magnetic storms. This particular aurora is probably associated with a coronal mass ejection from an active region known as AR9393 and associated with the sunspot group discussed in this NOAO press release (see also the press release from Sacramento Peak Observatory). Other interesting information about the effects of the Sun on the Earth can be found at the Space Weather web site. It is rare to be able to see an aurora of this magnitude from Arizona. This is a 30 second exposure using Fuji 800 film and a 50mm camera lens. In addition to the red and green colors, also note the faint striations in the aurora. With the unaided eye these "streamers" moved across the sky in slow undulating waves. The aurora persisted for about an hour, and some of the changes can be seen by comparison with this other image from the same roll of film.
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