Why I am the storm...
I have two photographic interests. Severe weather and northern lights. Growing up in Regina, SK I have witnessed unbelievably beautiful displays in southern Saskatchewan's living skies. Since gifted a Nikon D3100 DSLR camera for my birthday in May of 2012, I was motivated to capture the images and compositions I have been carrying in my heart for years. I became skilled in these fields of photography and post development. I began to share my photos on social media and was delighted to have these images shown on Global News Regina, Saskatoon, CTV Regina, CBC Saskatchewan, The Weather Network and more. I continue to nurture these relations. Since 2012 I have upgraded to a Nikon D810 and a D5.
Firsthand experience of severe weather and space weather produces feelings of humbleness, awe of nature, excitement (which can be addictive) and appreciation of our lives in a much bigger universe.
I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.
Animated GIF of nightside reconnection forming STEVE. Credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Krystofer Kim
Many years ago field observers of the aurora borealis such as myself noticed some strangely lit areas of the sky that didn’t appear to be aurora but gave off light nonetheless. I had mistook it as contrails from air traffic in the past but after a few photographs that I took, I knew it was something else. After consulting with some members of the Facebook group Alberta Aurora Chasers, we thought it was a ‘Proton Arc’. A while later it was made clear to us by scientists that this was not a proton arc. We didn’t know what to call it. So we named it Steve. The reason why named it Steve was because it was an unknown object. Similar to one that the waking creatures of spring found in the movie Over the Hedge. They came across a enormous hedge stretching as far as the eye could see. After ridiculous dialogue, they decided to name it Steve and William Shatner’s voiced character started to worship it. It was ridiculous, we liked it. That’s how it came to be known as Steve.
Later on, upon consultation with scientists in NASA and the University of Alberta that they didn’t know what it was earlier for some time. A handful of us had images of it and one night I set out with my children to see the aurora on July 24th, 2016. Steve appeared that night and I dedicated my camera to taking time lapse images of it. While I did that, I used Twitter to “live tweet” that it was in the sky to the scientists. A swarm of ESA satellites in orbit passed through and collected instrument data on Steve. This correlation of data and field reporting citizen scientists led to better understanding of our magnetic field and a mystery in our sub aurora skies in the southern prairies of Canada.
Later on, NASA returned with an answer, it was a Sub Auroral Ionic Drift (SAID). Not a proton arc nor a SAR arc. This was not an average SAID though. But in the meantime, a frenzy of field reports set out to capture more images of it. I allowed NASA to use my time lapse still images to be studied and analyzed. This resulted in a scientific paper to be released in the Science Advances magazine. The citizen scientists and field reporters were successful in getting the name STEVE to be official. It’s backronym is Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE).
On top of it all, I along with a the team involved received a certificate from NASA. Also the Canadian Mint has made a collectable coin of STEVE as a part of their “Sky Wonders” series, as well.
Steve, Mystery of Purple Lights in Sky Solved with Help From Citizen Scientists: here
Steve, a part of the Sky Wonders coin collection by the Canadian Mint: here
Steve, a study released in Science Advances: here
Steve, NASA Goddard video, 14MAR2018: here
Steve, the Northern Lights and myself, Macleans Magazine: here