Steve flies high over Brettabister

A spectacular image of an unusual cosmic event has been captured by an isles aurora hunter and photographer.

Kev Bryant caught the image of S.T.E.V.E (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) over The Old Schoolhouse in Brettabister during the clam and clear night of Tuesday 2nd March.

Mr Bryant said: “I have seen it before but not as strong, I’ve seen a small version of it.”

The phenomenon is not that rare but was little understood until the European Space Agency’s Smarm mission found STEVE is caused by a 25km (16 mile) wide ribbon of hot plasma at an altitude of 450km (280 miles), with a temperature of 3,000 °C (3,270 K; 5,430 °F) and flowing at a speed of 6km/s (3.7 mile/s).

Mr Bryant is a member of the Shetland Aurora Hunters Facebook page and had received an alert that the northern lights could be present during Tuesday night.

“When I set up a camera to see the aurora I looked up and saw this beam of light. Its not the first one I have seen but it is the best I have taken in Shetland. It was really exciting,” said Mr Bryant.

The photo also shows the trajectory of a satellite to the right of STEVE, which differs in its appearance from a shooting star by the fact that its path is outlined by a series of dots, rather than a continuous  line.

STEVE was in the air over the schoolhouse for around 30 minutes.


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