Northern Lights, Other Stellar Surprises Above Portland, Oregon, Coast
Published 06/22/2015 at 6:34 PM PDT
(Oregon Coast) – Planets, northern lights and late sunsets, oh my. This is what's in store for Portland, inland Oregon and the coast.
Jim Todd, astronomy expert at Portland's OMSI, is pointing out a few magnificent developments and surprises in the skies above the Pacific Northwest
Todd said to keep a look out for the Aurora Borealis above Oregon skies tonight, although chances of spotting it with the naked eye are fairly slim. The sun fired off some big eruptions recently, and that could spell some funky glowing stuff above us.
“There were major flares two days ago and the Coronal Mass Ejections have hit,” Todd said. “The space weather forecast system predicted Kp 8 and it has arrived. If you have friends and relatives in Europe, Canada, or the northern tier of US states, go take a look after sunset. For those above the arctic circle, too bad: no night! The input seems to be trailing off, however, so we probably won't get really low latitude auroras like Oregon, Colorado or Kansas.”
Still, more professional camera equipment has a better chance of catching it. Set your ASA settings high and keep exposures under 15 or 10 seconds. You'll also need to head out of city lights, which makes the Oregon coast a good spot to photograph from.
The longest day of the year – the summer solstice – may have passed, but sunsets are still getting later. Todd said those above the Arctic Circle are now experiencing the “midnight sun.”
“For most of us Northern hemisphere folks, the latest sunset comes after the solstice, because of the 'equation of time' - the difference between the time by the Sun and our clock times,” Todd said. “Noon by the Sun differs from clock time by up to 20 minutes, because of the ellipticity of the earth's orbit and the fact that the Sun does not stay over our equator. The latest sunset for Portland is on June 26 at 9:04 pm.”
Also, Venus and Jupiter continue to cling together in the sunset skies, and in fact they will get closer and closer. They'll practically be hand-in-hand by July 1.
“These visible planets will be hard to miss as Venus, with a magnitude of -4, and Jupiter with a magnitude of -2 will rank as the third and fourth brightest celestial bodies, after the Sun and full Moon,” Todd said.
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