What happens when a group of amateur stargazers discover a totally new, never-before-seen celestial event in all of its splendor and glory? They name it “Steve,” of course.
No, this actually isn’t a joke. Members of The Alberta Aurora Chasers have been taking photographs of this bright purple streak as it appears in the sky over Canada for quite some time now, all of them under the belief that it was a type of aurora known as a “proton aurora.” However, upon meeting Eric Donovan, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Calgary, the group discovered that proton auroras cannot be seen by the naked eye, and that what they were photographing was something completely different! Crazy, right?
“It looks a lot like a traditional auroral arc although the color is a bit wrong,” Donovan mentioned in an interview with the Calgary Eyeopener, and that’s not the only thing strange about Steve. Unlike the famous Northern Lights, Steve doesn’t seem to move, meaning you can always find him in the sky at the same spot. Weird.
While scientists were trying to discover exactly what this phenomenon was, Chris Ratzlaff, a photographer and member of The Alberta Aurora Chasers, named it Steve, and it stuck! Ratzlaff claims his inspiration for the name was the animated movie Over The Hedge. (Darn, my money was on Steve Harvey!)
Now here’s the real kicker: After studying Steve, scientists have decided that the name might actually be appropriate! Seriously, they’re thinking of keeping it, since Steve is a “sudden thermal emission through a velocity enhancement,” so they got it right the first time.
“I think we might actually leave Steve as the name, and it’s nice because it’s fun,” Said Donovan, but no matter what scientists decide upon, I have a feeling that Steve will always be just that in the hearts of the people.