Another big solar flare extends active aurora

Release Date: 
Thursday, October 30, 2003


Another powerful solar flare has reached Earth on the heels of an enormous flare, giving Alaskans a great chance for aurora viewing in the next few nights. The most recent solar flare exploded from the surface of the sun at about 11:40 a.m. Alaska time, October 29, and researchers at the UAF Geophysical Institute say it arrived at Earth at about noon Alaska time, October 30.

“I would expect a lot of aurora activity through the next 12 hours (through 3 a.m. Alaska time, October 31),” said Dirk Lummerzheim, a research professor who studies the aurora at the Geophysical Institute.

Lummerzheim said the latest flare has already induced aurora displays over Europe as far south as Munich, Germany. Along with a massive flare of a few days ago, activity where Earth’s magnetic field meets space has allowed the aurora to extend its halo southward from over the North Pole. This means that the aurora has appeared overhead in areas as far south as mid-Europe, and has been visible on the northern horizon from places close to Earth’s equator.

“I got reports from Oklahoma and Texas,” Lummerzheim said. “Even Madrid. Usually they get 10 aurora sightings in Germany each year. They have 12 or 13 already this year.”

Lummerzheim and a team of other scientists at the Geophysical Institute produce an aurora forecast daily. It is published online at

Dirk Lummerzheim, Research Professor, UAF Geophysical Institute: (907) 474-7564
Ned Rozell, Science Writer, UAF Geophysical Institute: (907) 474-7468