Originally published on by mlive.com by Mark Torregrossa on October 6th 2017

A newly named type of northern lights, called STEVE, captured over Kakwa, Alberta around midnight on September 15, 2017 (Catalin Tapardel)

Northern lights enthusiasts have discovered a new type of northern lights, and named it STEVE.

You might wonder what STEVE means. At first it didn’t mean anything. It was just a name. STEVE comes from the animated movie Over The Hedge. In the movie, the main characters were watching bushes rustle. Out came an animal that they didn’t know. So they named it Steve.

That’s how STEVE, the new type of northern lights, got its name. Citizen scientists took a few photos of STEVE and showed the photos to NASA scientists. NASA scientists initially couldn’t explain the newly discovered aurora type, so they all decided on naming it Steve for now.

Burcu Kosar, Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, says NASA scientists have now turned STEVE into an acronym – Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.

Kosar admits NASA still doesn’t know exactly how STEVE is produced. NASA is working on the scientific aspects of STEVE, and trying to understand STEVE. NASA suspects STEVE might have both a magnetospheric and ionospheric origin.

STEVE is a very thin, purplish arc that can almost look like a picket fence, according to Kumar. Kumar says STEVE can be viewed farther south than the larger oval auroras that sweep the skyline. If a large scale aurora is visible in Canada, STEVE may be briefly visible in the northern border states of the U.S., such as Michigan.

Now one of NASA’s goals is to get larger numbers of citizen scientists to report northern lights, including STEVE. NASA has set up a project called Aurorasaurus. At Aurorasaurus, you can see where the northern lights are predicted to be located in the near future, and actual reports of the northern lights from people around the world.

Fall is a great time! These lights can be seen in Michigan, and NASA is involved. For the original post and for additional videos, click HERE.