Great aurora - last update: 22 September 1998, 1640 UT (RR)

Great magnetic storm are often related with auroras of high visual brightness that are seen at exceptionally low latitudes. Especially, two types of high altitude red auroras are seen:

For more information, see low-latitude aurorae.

Historical events

Type A red aurora can be seen only during the main phase of the strongest magnetic storms. Here is a list of some famous historical events (from Vallance Jones, 1992):

Date A.D.Seen in
Oct 5, 1591Nuremberg
Feb 10, 1681Pressberg, Hungary
Mar 17, 1716Europe
Sept 15, 1839London
Aug 28, 1859N. America, Jamaica, Rome
Sept 2, 1859N. America, S. Salvador, Athens
Feb 4, 1872Bombay, Mexico, Athens (zenith)
Sept 25, 1909Singapore
Mar 22-23, 1920Oslo, Washington
May 14-15, 1921Samoa (13S), Jamaica
Jan 26, 1926Scandinavia
Jan 25-26, 1938Oslo, Azores, N. Africa

Of these, the ones in 1859 were very important as they resulted in papers about such novel findings as solar flares and geomagnetic pulsations. In addition, here are some more recent events (same source):

Date A.D.Notes
Feb 24-25, 1956Alaska
Sept 13, 1957Mexico
Sept 22, 1957Mexico
Feb 10-11, 1958N. America, Mexico, USSR
Sept 3-4, 1958Canada
Sept 4-5, 1958Canada
Nov 27, 1959
Mar 23-24, 1969
Mar 8, 1970
Aug 17, 1970Rocket obs.
Dec 17-18, 1971
Aug 4, 1972ISIS-II, SAR arc
Dec 1-2, 1977Morning-dayside
Mar 5, 1981Thermal, Boulder
Apr 13, 1981Arizona
July 13-14, 1982Major storm
Mar 13, 1989Great aurora
Nov 8-9, 1991Great aurora (McEwen and Huang, 1995)

Note how the sunspot cycle is reflected in the occurrence of great aurora:


See also: