New Documentary: Chasing STEVE, and other Aurorasaurus Project Happenings

New Documentary: Chasing STEVE, and other Aurorasaurus Project Happenings

The New Mexico Consortium (NMC) is proud to help promote the release of a new documentary “Chasing Steve” which the Aurorasaurus project has been a part of.

This documentary is about a group of Alberta, Canada night sky photographers who have discovered a celestial phenomenon that has not been previously studied by scientists. These bands of light named “STEVE” (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) are now being studied globally, and this discovery has given rise to many theories and scientific papers. The night sky photographers have even received an award from NASA for their contribution to the scientific discovery!

This Chasing Steve documentary is now being released worldwide, and you can watch it on Vimeo! Also because it is Citizen Science Month, they’re going to offer the film for just $0.99 through the month of April.  The Chasing Steve Online Launch Party + Q&A will take place April 16th, 2020 at 4:00 pm PST / 7:00 pm EST, on Zoom and on social media.

What is Aurorasaurus? This NMC project is the first citizen science project that collects rare sightings of the Northern and Southern Lights in order to improve real-time tracking and understanding of the aurora. The Aurorasaurus project allows the public to enter their observations of aurora through their website, as well as on a mobile application platform

Other Aurorasaurus and STEVE News:

Aurorasaurus took part in the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI) Workshop 2020, March 20-21 over Zoom. Dr. Liz MacDonald gave an invited talk: “Aurorasaurus: Citizen Science Observations of the Aurora” and presented a poster on behalf of a citizen scientist volunteer, Dr. Michael Hunnekuhl: “An Aurorasaurus Citizen Science Database of Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE) Observations”. NMC employee and Aurorasaurus staff Laura Brandt presented a poster: “Into the Ionosphere: Real-Time Aurora Mapping Through Citizen Science”, and also chaired the poster session.

In February, the National Academies released their decadal midterm survey on heliophysics. Aurorasaurus and STEVE achievements are highlighted: “Since the publication of the 2013 decadal survey, citizen science (public participation in scientific research) has become more prominent in solar and space physics. An example of the scientific benefits of citizen science, the discovery of STEVE, was discussed in Chapter 2. Another example is the Aurorasaurus project, a citizen science website where participants report sightings and details of the aurora. The data have been used to improve models for auroral forecasts. Citizen science allows the research community to leverage a large volunteer workforce that can provide a unique set of measurements—for example, those distributed around the globe in the case of Aurorasaurus. In addition, citizen science provides an important outreach tool. It has the ability to engage many thousands of volunteers in scientific research and the potential to inspire new generations of heliophysics researchers.”

On February 12, a paper by Aurorasaurus volunteer Dr. Michael Hunnekuhl and Dr. MacDonald published “Early Ground-Based Work by Auroral Pioneer Carl Størmer on the High Altitude Detached Subauroral Arcs now known as STEVE” in Space Weather with open access. The paper identifies STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) candidates in the historical record, especially in the papers of Carl Størmer.

In January, Dr. MacDonald gave an interview to Science News Magazine that was used in a February 7 article about the new auroral forms termed “dunes” and the most recent advancements on STEVE research.

Also in January, Dr. MacDonald visited Alaska and the University of Alaska Fairbanks where she was an invited speaker speaker for the UAFGI’s Science for Alaska Lecture Series, and presented “Aurorasaurus: How you can get involved in aurora research.” She presented a screening of the short documentary Chasing STEVE at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, and provided a Q&A discussion after the film. While in Fairbanks, she also presenting at Aurora Science Day, a free, public outreach event for all ages in Fairbanks, AK, organized by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.


Photo of STEVE by Catalin Tapardel taken from the Aurorasaurus blog.