• A Study of the Aurora of 1859

      Kimball, D. S. (Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, 1960-04)
      The two great auroral displays of August 28-29 and September 1-2, 1859 are studied from a collection of world-wide descriptive observations. Both auroras reached to unusually low latitudes. Red glows were reported as visible from within 23° of the geomagnetic equator in both north and south hemispheres during the display of September 1-2. It is shown that by using graphic symbols, descriptive reports may be used to indicate the significant features of an auroral display. A series of world-wide maps show the hourly locations and lowest latitude limits of auroral visibility and overhead aurora for the most active hours. They illustrate how the progress of an aurora may be followed throughout the night. Both auroras seen in North America reached their southern limits near local midnight. During the larger display of September 1-2 the aurora moved to lower latitudes and also covered a wide range in latitudes. This indicates that during great displays the auroral activity appears to expand in latitude until local midnight, at the same time moving towards the geomagnetic equator. Over large areas both displays were predominantly red. Magnetic records indicate that there were two distinct disturbances associated with the two displays. A tabulation of all known available auroral observations reported from August 28 to September 5, 1859 illustrates that by using a letter code, significant auroral activity may be recorded for use in auroral catalogues.