Wednesday, September 27, 2023

What Happens When a STEVE and The Milky Way "Cross" a Country Road?

What Happens When a STEVE and The Milky Way "Cross" a Country Road?

A rural road is pictured running to the horizon with rural grassy fields on both sides. Rising from the lower left is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Rising from the horizon—just at the visible end of the road, is a thin twisting band of light twisting green and red bands—a STEVE. The STEVE crosses in front of the Milky Way band making a big entrance . . .

Not every road ends in a STEVE. A week ago, a sky enthusiast's journey began with a goal—to photograph an aurora over Lake Huron. Driving through rural Ontario, Canada, the forecasted sky show started unexpectedly early, causing the photographer to stop before arriving at the scenic Great Lake. Aurora images were taken toward the north—but over land, not sea. 

While waiting for a second round of auroras, a peculiar band of light was noticed to the west. Slowly, the photographer and friends realized that this western band was likely an unusual type of aurora: a Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE). [Unlike other auroras, the STEVE seems to form from a ribbon of hot gases.] Moreover, this STEVE was putting on quite a show. It appeared to be intertwined with the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy while intersecting the horizon just near the end of the country road. After capturing this "cosmic X" on camera, the photographer paused to appreciate the unexpected awesomeness of finding extraordinary beauty in an ordinary setting.

Image Credit & Copyright: Theresa Clarke

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Release Date: Sept. 27, 2023

#NASA #Space #Astronomy #Science #Planet #Earth #Atmosphere #AtmosphericOptics #Physics #NorthernLights #Aurora #AuroraBorealis #STEVE #MilkyWayGalaxy #LakeHuron #Ontario #Canada #Astrophotography #TheresaClarke #Astrophotographer #CitizenScience #STEM #Education #APoD

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