photos Richard Sears
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WEEKEND AURORA WATCH: Earth is beginning to exit a stream of solar wind flowing from a large hole in the sun's atmosphere. As a result, NOAA forecasters have lowered the odds of a geomagnetic storm today to only 35%. Arctic sky watchers should nevertheless remain alert for midnight auroras on Feb 3-4 as the solar wind speed is still near 600 km/s. Free: Aurora alerts.
When the solar wind stream first arrived on Jan. 31-Feb. 1, it delivered a blow to Earth's magnetic field that sparked locally intense lights around the poles. M-P Markkanen observed this outburst over Lemmenjoki National Park in the Lapland of Finland:
"It was a mind blowing spectacle!" says Markkanen. "All night long, the sky was a showcase of aurora forms and colors -- green, red, pink, purple, white, arcs, curtains, coronas, pulsing, and at times the whole sky was just glowing green from north to south."
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
RAINBOW SPOKES: Rainbows are shaped like a wheel. Did you know, sometimes the wheel has spokes? Richard Sears photographed the phenomenon on February 3, 2017 from Ballico, California:
"This morning, it was raining in the west. As the sun rose in the east, sunbeams lanced through gaps in the rain clouds. This produced a splendid atmospheric optical display with a double rainbow and 'spokes,'" says Sears.
Spokes are simply the shadows of clouds interrupting the normal arc of the rainbow. Sometimes, when clouds are moving fast across the sky, the rainbow wheel appears to rotate. That would be amazing to see.