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An Aurora Named Steve
It was nearly 11pm in southern Saskatchewan. I had just watched a bright auroral substorm send colorful arcs high into the northern sky, but it was starting to fade. Then I turned around, looking south, and this is what I saw. A bright pinkish strip of light stretched from east to west, while the crescent moon hung low on the horizon. It's one of the most unusual things I've ever seen in the night sky. This strange type of aurora is called Steve. The name started as a joke, but it stuck. Steve was first captured last year by a group of aurora photographers in Alberta. After ESA flew a satellite through it earlier this year, it was discovered that it's comprised of very hot (10,800°F) ionized gases moving along at 4 miles per second. This ribbon of light is 16 miles wide and thousands of miles long. I watched as Steve started overhead nearly paralleling the US-Canada border, before slowly moving south. It turned into a green "picket fence" pattern before fading away. It was awesome to see such a mysterious phenomena which is still being studied by scientists.