Northern Lights Tonight on Spencer's Butte?
Wednesday, August 4, 2010 3:26 PM
I'll be hanging around at the top of Spencer's Butte tonight until around 10 p.m. to try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Particles from a large solar flare first seen 3 days ago hit the earth last night, and will continue tonight. The earth's magnetic field funnels these particles towards the north and south poles where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the upper atmosphere. The collisions strip off electrons temporarily from the molecules. When the electrons are recaptured by the oxygen and nitrogen, their energy is released as light: green for oxygen and red for nitrogen.
Last night, a photographer in Rama, MI at about our latitude sent in a photo of the lights to CNN, so we have a pretty good chance to see them here. I've never seen them, so if they appear tonight, I may have a geekasm.
I'm also bringing some wood and hoddogs to burn on a small fire, if it's not too windy. This time I'm bringing my stove and a frying pan in case the fire doesn't work.
If you want to stay up there tonight, bring some extra water, a warm jacket and a good flashlight or headlamp. We'll at least see a nice sunset, and have something to chew. Hope to see y'all tonight.