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Chasing STEVE: a mystery in the night sky

For years, a group of passionate night sky photographers across Alberta have been capturing a curious ribbon of purple and green light in their night skies. Extending for thousands of kilometres and appearing for just a few minutes to an hour at a time, the Alberta Aurora Chasers captured this celestial phenomenon in their photographs not quite knowing what it was.

Eric Donovan, a Professor of Astronomy at the University of Calgary, and Elizabeth MacDonald, a scientist at NASA, told the photographers that they had discovered something not formerly studied by scientists. Astrophysicists worldwide are now studying what it could be.

Affectionately naming the band of light "STEVE", these photographers have captured the attention of the international scientific community and have become citizen scientist celebrities. The discovery has given rise to many theories and scientific papers and the Alberta Aurora Chasers have received an award from NASA for their contribution to the scientific discovery.

password: Aurora

Grade Levels

Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

Curriculum Links

Science 6: Position, motion, components of our Solar system in our Milky Way galaxy
Science 9: Energy flow in the atmosphere and the effects in the atmosphere of solar radiation
Science 10: Astronomical data and collection methods
Earth Sciences 11: Astronomy seeks to explain the origin and interactions of Earth and its Solar System
Science for Citizens 11: Evidence based decision making through science, Scientific literacy

Curricular Competencies:
Questioning and predicting
Planning and conducting
Processing and analyzing data and information
Applying and innovating


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  • English

Additional Information

Produced in 2019 by All in Pictures

For further information: Chasing Steve Film