STEVE emerges from a blood-red arc in New Zealand footage

On March 17, 2015, a blood-red arc cut through the sky hundreds of miles across New Zealand. Over the next half hour, an amateur skywatcher observed that arc as it transformed before his eyes into one of the earth’s most confusing atmospheric mysteries – the eerie ribbon known as STEVE – revealing recently released photos.

STEVE, short for “strong thermal velocity improvement,” is an atmospheric oddity first described in 2018, after amateur pursuers of the Northern Lights saw a narrow stream of smooth purple arcs across the sky over northern Canada. Researchers who studied the phenomenon soon confirmed that STEVE was not one northern lights – the multicolored glow that appears at high latitudes when solar particles collide with atoms high Jordens atmosphere. Rather, STEVE was a separate and unique phenomenon that is “completely unknown“to science.