Meet “Steve,” a strange, new aurora feature discovered by citizen scientists and verified by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm satellites. Eric Donovan, a researcher at University of Calgary in Canada, first heard of “Steve” while talking to members of a Facebook group called the Alberta Aurora Chasers, who coordinate to track and photograph the northern lights in the Canadian sky (Alberta is a province in western Canada).

While the colorful lights of an aurora normally ripple horizontally across the sky, Steve formed a distinctive purplish or greenish vertical streak. To learn more about it, Donovan coordinated with the Facebook group to match sightings of the feature with data from the Swarm satellites, which measure Earth’s magnetic field, and ground-based scientific cameras that monitor the sky. READ MORE