Archive Index


Geomagnetic and Auroral Activity in August 1956

According to Ron Livesey, Director of the Aurora Section of the British Astronomical Association (letter to Paul Fuller dated 14 April 2003), the Balfour Stewart Auroral Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh began collecting auroral observations in 1952. These records are now held with Historic Collections, Special Libraries and Archives, King's College, Aberdeen.

Ron Livesey says that there were no visual observations of aurora during August 1956 in the Balfour Stewart records. This is backed up by some records for RAF Kinloss for the period 1953-57 which were discovered and retrieved last year by the Met. Office staff at the base. Again, nothing visual was reported from Kinloss either.

1957 was a sunspot maximum year; however, the Balfour Stewart data for central Scotland shows little change compared with previous years, i.e. the number of reported aurora were :-

1952      78
1953      37
1954      65
1956      42
1957      125

On the night of August 13/14 1956 the earth's magnetic field was "quiet" based on the auroral geomagnetic index for two antipodal observatories, according to Ron Livesey, who adds "it is possible to get some mid latitude aurorae in Scotland when the magnetic field is quiet. It is also possible to have some large magnetic activity but with no aurora, but this is rare." The full list of auroral indices for August 1956 is :-

1st          15
2nd             13
3rd              11
4th               6
5th                7
6th                7
7th                4
8th              17
9th              37
10th            14
11th            46
12th            32
13th            10
14th              8
15th              9
16th              9
17th            26
18th              5
19th              4
20th              4
21st            37
22nd           16
23rd            40
24th            80
25th            46
26th            35
27th            20
28th            23
29th            19
30th            16
31st            29

There is also geomagnetic data for Kinloss by month which shows that for 1956 the auroral index was zero for the months of July, August and September.