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STEVE over Orsta, Norway. January 17, 2013.

STEVE photograped over Ørsta, Norway on January 17, 2013. STEVE fotografert over Ørsta, Norge den 17. januar 2013. STEVE, is an abbreviation for: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. Photo details: Canon 500D, Sigma 17-70 mm lens.

STEVE photographed over Ørsta, Norway on January 17, 2013.
(STEVE fotografert over Follestaddalen i Ørsta, Norge den 17. januar 2013.). Photo details: Date/Time: January 17, 2013 21:10.39 Location: Ørsta, Norway Equipment: Canon EOS 500D, Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens, Remote controller: RC-5, tripod. Settings: Iso: 1600, exposure time: 18 seconds. This photo was dormant on a hard disk drive until it was recovered in mid-October 2020.


STEVE (a different aurora)

On the evening of January 17, 2013 there was a vivid display of aurora borealis as seen from my location  in Ørsta, Norway. (Lat 62.18 N). (Please, see two images at the bottom of this page).

The same evening, I also noticed a structure – a band, that resembled a contrail from a plane. This narrow band was however different. It appeared white, but a tint glow of purple could be seen. I stopped photographing the aurora borealis, and directed the camera/lens to the eastern sky where the phenomenon was located.  And shot several images. The photographic field was not wide enough to cover the band in one shot. Here is a panorama version (two photos combined into one image).

wSteve_P17jan2013-oyebirkelSeveral years later, in 2016, this phenomenon was named STEVE.

STEVE, is an abbreviation for: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.

It is a phenomenon that is still not fully understood, and research is ongoing.

Recent research tells us that:

STEVE’s seem to form from a ribbon of hot gases rather than from streaming electrons and protons that create (most) auroras.

STEVE is purple (or mauve) in color (occasionally, a green “picket-fence” occurs below), and takes shape in a narrow arc below and equatorward of the primary auroral band. STEVE is almost always aligned in an east-west direction. According to observations the phenomenon  can stretch out for hundreds or even thousands of km.

STEVE is a phenomenon caused by a stream of fast and extremely hot particles, called a sub-auroral displacement of ions.

STEVE is seen on lower latitudes than ordinary polar lights.

Carl Størmer photographed STEVE over Oslo, Norway in 1911. He called the phenomenon “feeble homogenous arcs of great altitude”.

(Please, see links for more elaborate resources at the very bottom of this page)


w007-jan172013-oyebirkeland w031-17jan2013-oyebirkeland

Link to resources:

Norwegian Space Agency


When Størmer Met STEVE