Newly-Observed Atmospheric Phenomenon Named "Steve"

The Alberta Aurora Chasers Facebook group shares pictures its members take of the Northern Lights. Last year, they noticed a phenomenon showing up in some pictures: a purplish ribbon in the sky.

Giving off a glow in mostly purple and green colors, the phenomenon was observed by members of a Facebook group called the “Alberta Aurora Chasers” who named the display “Steve.” Why Steve? Well, this is a reference to the popular children’s movie Over the Hedge where one of the characters isn’t sure what he is looking at and randomly names it Steve. Steve was formerly called by aurora chasers and photographers a “proton arc” (also known as a proton aurora). Proton aurora, or aurora caused by the raining down of protons from the magnetosphere is broad, diffuse, and dim visually unlike the structure of Steve that is narrow and has motion. So we know it is not a proton arc although we do not yet fully know what it is.

You can read more about what "Steve" may or may not be at Aurorasaurus and Gizmodo. -via Smithsonian

(Image credit: Dave Markel Photography)


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