Astrophotographer captures rare image of STEVE over Canada

Aug 12, 2022

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

Astrophotographer captures rare image of STEVE over Canada

Aug 12, 2022

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Early Monday morning a powerful solar storm hit planet Earth. The stream of charged solar particles from the sun caused an arresting display of aurora when they hit the Earth’s atmosphere. One lucky astrophotographer captured the spectacular sky and also managed to witness a very rare elusive phenomenon called STEVE.

Alan Dyer, an astronomy writer and photographer based in southern Alberta, Canada, knew exactly what he was seeing. The iridescent purple river of light crossing the sky wasn’t just part of the usual aurora, but was created by an entirely different mechanism and wasn’t even discovered until 2017.

STEVE is of course an acronym, which stands for Strong Thermal Velocity Enhancement. It is typically revealed as a long purplish ribbon of light that hangs in the sky for around an hour. Dyer notes on his Twitter post that this one lasted around 40 minutes. It’s often accompanied by a “picket fence” of green light which usually disappears after a few minutes.

 

STEVE is a long, thin line of hot gas that slices through the sky for hundreds of miles. The hot air inside STEVE can blaze at more than 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit (3,000 degrees Celsius) and move roughly 500 times faster than the air on each side of it, satellite observations have shown.

The aurora happens when charged solar particles hit the upper atmosphere, whereas STEVE hits the lower subauroral regions. Scientists still aren’t completely sure what causes this, however, STEVE almost always shows up towards the end of an aurora display, late to the party so to speak.

This is an amazing capture from Dyer and absolutely fascinating that it has only been seen a handful of times. You can see more of Dyer’s work on his website or follow him on Instagram.

 

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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3 responses to “Astrophotographer captures rare image of STEVE over Canada”

  1. DIYP community member Avatar
    DIYP community member

    Yes, and I have captured it as well.
    Northern Sweden a few years back.