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See also: Steve and steve


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A STEVE as seen in Manitoba in 2017


(2016) Backformation from the nickname "Steve" given to this aurora-like light. Acronym of strong thermal emission velocity enhancement.. The nickname "Steve" resulted from a meeting between citizen scientists and researchers from the University of Calgary at a bar, to discuss the purple light. 'Steve' is the namesake of a cartoon character from the 2006 animated film "Over the Hedge", where cartoon animals try to peek over a suburban hedge. The backronym resulted from researchers creating a meaning to the nickname "Steve", keeping the original nickname for the formal name.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

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STEVE (uncountable)

  1. An aurora-like light found in southern Canada (consistently lower latitude, unlike the aurora borealis which is generally high latitude), composed of a glowing purple ribbon of light, with green spikes coming off obliquely parallel to each other, moving at about 6.5 km/s East to West. Presumably occurs in the southern hemisphere as well.
    • 2018, "On the Origin of STEVE: Particle Precipitation or Ionospheric Skyglow?", Geophysical Research Letters, B. Gallardo‐Lacourt; J. Liang; Y. Nishimura; E. Donovan;, DOI: 10.1029/2018GL078509
      Although STEVE has been documented by amateur night sky watchers for decades, it is an exciting new upper atmospheric phenomenon for the scientific community.
    • 2018, "Historical observations of STEVE", arXiv, Mark Bailey; Conor Byrne; Rok Nezic; David Asher; James Finnegan;, BIBCODE: 2018arXiv180801872B
      Respecting its nickname, they have dubbed the phenomenon STEVE, an acronym for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.
    • 2018, "New science in plain sight: Citizen scientists lead to the discovery of optical structure in the upper atmosphere", Science Advances, Elizabeth A. MacDonald et al.;, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq0030
      First, in the unfiltered white-light STEVE is a narrow purple band with the strongest emissions saturating to white


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Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ New York Times, "That Ghostly, Glowing Light Above Canada? It’s Just Steve", Jacey Fortin, 25 April 2017
  2. ^ New York Times, "Steve, a Famous Northern Light, Stays Mysterious (and Keeps His Name)", Jacey Fortin, 15 March 2018
  3. ^ NASA, "The Aurora Named STEVE", Yvette Smith, 15 March 2018
  4. ^ Popular Mechanics, "Sky Phenomenon 'Steve' Is Finally Explained", Sophie Weiner, 16 March 2018
  5. ^ The Guardian, "‘Steve’: the mystery purple aurora that rivals the northern lights", Emine Saner, 19 March 2018
  6. ^ The Telegraph, "What is Steve? Mysterious aurora seen in Scotland", Helena Horton, 20 March 2018