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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:

  • type-A red aurora
  • high altitude sunlit auroral rays

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

37

Rome

Oct 5, 1591

Nuremberg

Feb 10, 1681

Pressberg, Hungary

Mar 17, 1716

Europe

Sept 15, 1839

London

Aug 28, 1859

N. America, Jamaica, Rome

Sept 2, 1859

N. America, S. Salvador, Athens

Feb 4, 1872

Bombay, Mexico, Athens (zenith)

Sept 25, 1909

Singapore

Mar 22-23, 1920

Oslo, Washington

May 14-15, 1921

Samoa (13S), Jamaica

Jan 26, 1926

Scandinavia

Jan 25-26, 1938

Oslo, 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, 1956

Alaska

Sept 13, 1957

Mexico

Sept 22, 1957

Mexico

Feb 10-11, 1958

N. America, Mexico, USSR

Sept 3-4, 1958

Canada

Sept 4-5, 1958

Canada

Nov 27, 1959

Mar 23-24, 1969

Mar 8, 1970

Aug 17, 1970

Rocket obs.

Dec 17-18, 1971

Aug 4, 1972

ISIS-II, SAR arc

Dec 1-2, 1977

Morning-dayside

Mar 5, 1981

Thermal, Boulder

Apr 13, 1981

Arizona

July 13-14, 1982

Major storm

Mar 13, 1989

Great aurora

Nov 8-9, 1991

Great aurora (McEwen and Huang, 1995)

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

References

  • McEwen, D. J. and K. Huang, The polar onset and development of the November 8 and 9, 1991, global red aurora,J. Geophys. Res., 100, 19585-19594, 1995.
  • Vallance Jones, A., Historical review of great aurora,Can. J. Phys., 70, 479-487, 1992.
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