You know how it’s hilarious when people give their dogs very human-sounding names? These citizen scientists decided to one-up this concept. Meet “Steve”, a new type of aurora discovered by area locals of Regina, Canada.
Citizens of the region began noticing odd streaks of purple light in their night sky. This led to a project titled Aurorasaurus, where those interested contributed their observations and findings on the strange aurora. From 2015 to 2016, there were 30 reports contributed, which scientists from NASA and the University of Calgary reviewed.
These multiple sightings turned into a full peer-reviewed paper, which was just published in the Scientific Advances journal. Turns out, these Canadian citizens were correct: the aurora was unusual. In fact, these curious locals had discovered an entirely new aurora.
Most auroras have a nondescript oval shape, while Steve appears as a line with a distinct beginning and end. Most auroras are blue, green, and red, while Steve is purple with some green patterns. Steve is special. NASA says this aurora is distinct because of its magnetic field lines and its lower latitude- Steve runs close to the equator.
All I know is, Steve is really pretty. Plus it’s a hilarious name. It actually started as just a name and now stands for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. Scientists always have to take the fun out of everything!
Now, here’s Steve in all his glory:
If you want to catch a sight of Steve, good luck: he only lasts in the sky for about an hour, making this aurora all the more enigmatic.