Rare and Majestic Natural Phenomenon Named … Steve

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Who is he? Photo: Courtesy of Krista Trinder

The northern lights are a breathtaking display of natural beauty that can make anyone lucky enough to experience them in person feel awestruck as they consider their place in the vastness of the universe. So when a new kind of aurora was discovered, surely one would think it would be bestowed with a name fit for its magnificence. Yeah, anyway, they called it Steve.

National Geographic reports that aurora chasers and citizen scientist photographers began to spot a purple plasma ribbon in the night sky a few years ago. Per NASA, it was photographer and aurora chaser Facebook group administrator Chris Ratzlaff who started referring to it as “Steve.” When scientists published their findings on the new structure in Science Advances, they decided to stick with the popular nickname and officially call it a “Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE).”

But which Steve? Steve Brady, the fictional New York bartender and sentient pizza slice who impregnates Miranda on Sex and the City? Steven Van Zandt, legendary E Street member and Silvio Dante on the Sopranos? (Ho!) Steve Jobs, the famed inventor of the turtleneck? The world needs answers, for science.

Rare and Majestic Natural Phenomenon Named … ’Steve’