Astro Bob's Backyard Astronomy: Hey, Steve!
The aurora has been in rare form as of late. Bob King has noted eight displays in the past three weeks - this coming after years of very little activity. However, a nearly-full moon and a hole in the sun's corona no longer pointing directly at earth will cause the aurora to go quiet for a while.
When the aurora returns you’ll want your attention directed north, but don’t forget to look overhead… for STEVE. This newly defined phenomenon has similarities to the aurora but is a separate occurrence. "Auroras involve particles from the sun," says Bob King. "With STEVE, it's an extremely hot flow of gas way high up above the aurora. It has a similar appearance, it has these fingery rays."
STEVE and the aurora might be away for the next month or so, but the harvest moon will be here this Saturday. Saturn and Jupiter will be teaming up with moon for a clear sight of all three. "Jupiter is super bright all by itself," says King, "then you put a full moon next to it and - wow! Bam-o!"