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No. 119: Sep-Oct 1998

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Auroral Maps!

Auroral arcs are created by electrical currents flowing high in the ionosphere -- usually higher than 100 kilometers according to current [!] thinking. Therefore, scientists do not really expect to see terrestrial topography reflected in auroral geometry. Nevertheless, T. Pulkkinen of the Finnish Meterological Institute reported to the May 1998 meeting of the American Geophysical Union that coastlines somehow coax auroral arcs to align with them. In some 200 hours of observation along the Norwegian coast, there were nine clear-cut cases where auroral arcs lined up northsouth directly above the coastline. These alignments lasted 5-10 minutes.

L. Frank (of icy-comet notoriety) confirmed this effect with observations from NASA's Polar satellite. Sometimes auroral arcs aligned themselves parallel to the Greenland coast for hundreds of kilometers. Auroral arcs that fanned out east-to-west seemed to hit a barrier when they reached the Greenland coastline; they seemed to be deflected by it, even though the coast was more than 100 kilometers beneath them.

(Hecht, Jeff; "Leading Lights," New Scientist, p. 16, May 30, 1998.)

From Science Frontiers #119, SEP-OCT 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987