STEVE’s Little Green Cannonballs of Light

Just when you thought “STEVE” couldn’t get any weirder, a new paper published in the journal AGU Advances reveals that the luminous purple ribbon is often accompanied by green cannonballs of light that streak through the atmosphere at 1000 mph.

[Below is an abridged version of Dr. Tony Phillip’s excellent article–the full version of which is available at, dated November 22, 2020.]

STEVE (Strong Thermal Velocity Enhancement) is a relatively recent discovery, first spotted and photographed by Canadian citizen scientists around 10 years ago. It looks like an aurora, but it is not. The purple glow is caused by hot (3000 °C) rivers of gas flowing through Earth’s magnetosphere faster than 13,000 mph. This distinguishes it from auroras, which are ignited by energetic particles raining down from space.

“Citizen scientists have been photographing these green streaks for years,” says Joshua Semeter of Boston University, lead author of the new paper. “Now we’re beginning to understand what they are.”

There is a dawning realization that STEVE is more than just a purple ribbon, as photographers routinely catch it flowing over a sequence of green vertical pillars known as the “picket fence” (example shown below).

“Picket fence” below STEVE: Taken by Harlan Thomas
 on April 10, 2018 in Alberta, Canada.

These aren’t auroras either.

And now, Semeter’s team has identified yet another curiosity: “Beneath the picket fence, photographers often catch little horizontal streaks of green light,” explains Semeter: “This is what we studied in our paper.”

Entitled The Mysterious Green Streaks Below STEVE, Semeter’s research involved gathering as many images of these little horizontal streaks as possible, and citizen scientists across North America and New Zealand were only too happy to help:

In a few cases, the same streaks were captured by widely-separated photographers, allowing a triangulation of their position:


Upon analyzing dozens of high-quality images, the researchers came to these three conclusions:

1. The streaks are not in fact streaks, they are instead point-like balls of gas moving horizontally through the sky. In photos, the ‘green cannonballs’ are smeared into streaks by the exposure time of the cameras.

2. The cannonballs are typically 350 meters wide, and located about 105 km above Earth’s surface.

3. The color of the cannonballs is pure green–much moreso than ordinary green auroras, reinforcing the conclusion that they are different phenomena.

So, what exactly are STEVE’s green cannonballs?

Semeter and his team believe they are a sign of turbulence: “During strong geomagnetic storms, the plasma river that gives rise to STEVE flows at extreme supersonic velocities. Turbulent eddies and whirls dump some of their energy into the green cannonballs.”

This idea may explain their prevalence of late: given ongoing waning of Earths magnetic field (thought to be tied to a GSM and Pole Shift), geomagnetic storms could-well be having a bigger impact closer to the ground, with streams of plasma penetrating deeper into Earth’s atmosphere.

Semeter’s musings may also explain their pure color, writes Dr. Phillips. Auroras tend to be a mixture of hues caused by energetic particles raining down through the upper atmosphere. The ‘rain’ strikes atoms, ions, and molecules of oxygen and nitrogen over a wide range of altitudes. A hodge-podge of color naturally results from this chaotic process. STEVE’s cannonballs, on the other hand, are monochromatic. Local turbulence excites only oxygen atoms in a relatively small volume of space, producing a pure green at 557.7 nm; there is no mixture.

“It all seems to fit together, but we still have a lot to learn,” concludes Semeter. “Advancing this physics will benefit greatly from the continued involvement of citizen scientists.”

According the mainstream position, however, when it comes to science, “you must not do your own research“. By this logic, citizen scientists around the world should immediately cease all endeavors and their groups be disbanded.

But why? What do the powers-that-be deem so threatening and dangerous with people exploring the reality around them, and what business is it of theirs how a person searches for the truth?

The elite’s plan, it now seems obvious, is to herd society down one very specific thought-path, a path which offers a very narrow set of answers to all life’s questions and problems. People are misled into thinking science is definitive, that there is one simplistic answer to each and every query–but science doesn’t work on consensus, and even the most seemingly far-reaching hypothesis, if properly and honestly devised, has about as much chance being proven correct as any widely-held theory.

Nothing at all is settled.

Questioning everything is key, and mistakes are part-and-parcel.

This is science.

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Grand Solar Minimum + Pole Shift

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One Thought to “STEVE’s Little Green Cannonballs of Light”

  1. AZ1971

    Dr. Ethan Siegel, Ph.D., who wrote the article linked to here about why citizen scientists “must stop doing their own research” is a blowhard lying hypocrite. His quote, “When … consensus changes, evolves, or moves forward because we’ve learned more than we previously knew, we should correct course to follow that novel path instead” is impossible if we leave the so-called experts to rely on their own curiosity and ideological pursuits to investigate anything that’s been deemed absolute and unquestionable by “consensus of expert opinion”—even by their own kind. It’s the kind of false science which Galileo Galilei had to deal with in 1610 against Aristotelian cosmology.

    Not questioning science is in itself heresy. Science is a process used to prove or disprove a theory; it is not an untouchable, unquestionable concept which only a few educated elites sufficiently well-versed in “the full suite of data, of how those puzzle pieces fit together, and what the frontiers of our knowledge is” can adequately conceptualize and authenticate the veracity of, as Dr. Siegel proposes.

    It’s telling that Dr. Siegel ignores in its entirety the exact same inherent biases among experts who refuse to publish or acknowledge contrarian research (and the researchers themselves) which goes against their consensus. Implicit bias is present both within and outside scientific circles; such hubris amongst our “educated elites” who would admonish the layperson from doing their own critical thinking and research presents a special kind of evil and egotism that much be fought against by all—for what is the purpose of ANYONE having ANY critical thinking skills if those who rely on it would prevent others from doing the same?

    This just made me furious beyond all reason for what should have been a pleasant Thanksgiving holiday. Knowing this smug, self-righteous doctorate of astrophysics is trying to lecture us about psychology—when he himself is not an expert in mental health sciences—is too much to ignore, and we all should stand up against such apostates as he.

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