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The Moving Curtain of the Aurora

November 25, 2013; 6:30 AM ET

The cover photo was taken by Thomas Kast, All Rights Reserved. You can visit his facebook page by clicking here or his main webpage by clicking here.

An article in the October 2013 American Meteorological Society BAMS scientific journal discussed an interesting discovery that resulted from the imagery from the VIIRS aboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite.

As a result of the imaging techniques, researchers at the Colorado State University have been able to more precisely calculate how quickly the edge of the aurora (the Northern and Southern Lights) moves. They were able to determine that it can move several thousand miles per hour.

Our team at AccuWeather Astronomy speculates that this may help to explain the "dancing" or "moving curtain" effect that many people who observe the aurora describe. Our team also speculates that being able to accurately measure the auroral boundary speed may have future implications for predicting power grid fluctuations or disruptions in radio communications caused by auroral activity.

The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite orbits a blue-white Earth.

To read more about this mission, please click visit the NASA site by clicking here.

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The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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About This Blog

Astronomy Blog
The AccuWeather.com astronomy blog, by Dave Samuhel, discusses stargazing, including how weather will affect viewing conditions of astronomical phenomenon.