Wednesday, 28 October 2009

AuroraWatch Red Alert

This morning I received mail from AuroraWatch (Lancaster University) which stated they had observed a very large increase in geomagnetic activity. This is the first red alert of a possible aurora I have received for a long time. It may well be worth those in Northern latitudes keeping a watch on the sky tonight. No guarantees but not to be missed if it should occur.

I have a relatively simple magnetometer (a device for detecting very small changes in the Earth's magnetic field) which isn't showing much activity here but it is inside at the moment. I really should move the detector where it belongs - outside away from the house electrical fields.

Outside there is not a bird to be seen or heard. Have they detected this magnetic activity I wonder? It really is eerily quiet. 

Later in the day I moved my magnetometer (built from a kit some years ago) into the conservatory and videoed some of the readouts. The numbers on the scale do not have a meaning. All that is important are changes in the reading. On a quiet day the needle will move one small division every so often. This video is speeded up 10 times. Unfortunately the camcorder ran out of space on the DVD but sometimes the needle reached both ends of the scale. The needle jumps as the unit takes snapshots of the strength of the magnetic field every so often.

At 3.20 p.m. there is still almost complete silence from the birds and I have seen none come near the feeders. It was just as quiet round the rest of the village when we went walkies.

For those interested the AuroraWatch site is HERE but it seems to be very busy so it may take a while to get any information downloaded..


  1. Fascinating stuff John! Not a chance of seeing anything in London, but I have been looking at some Northern Lights holidays in Norway next February. A short 4 day trip up to Tromso would give me the best chance to see the lights!

  2. Hi Matron. A pity it turned out to be a false alert. I hope you manage to see them on your visits - and manage to get some photos as well.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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