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February 18th, 2012- Brief Aurora Display


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What an odd night this ended up being. I hadn't really been thinking about auroras... but around dusk Mike Hollingshead called and had mentioned that a photographer, Martin McKenna, from Ireland had been seeing them during the night. Usually when Martin reports them, we end up being able to see them too. They weren't in the forecast... and in the remaining twilight I snapped a few images but wasn't able to see any hint of the characteristic green glow on the horizon. Finally, around 9pm... there was a sudden jump in the plots used to show us when auroras are occuring, and they showed the display may be briefly coming outside. I headed out and snapped an image, to my suprise the green glow was already relatively intense and I started making calls to alert everyone else. After doing so the display briefly got very intense. I had bright greens and reds visible relatively high in the sky for about 15 minutes! It was awesome. Here are some images! (This reminds me that I need to get another account up for the first display I saw in August of 2011.)

This was when the reds first became visible... it was tough to find a white balance for this scene that looked right so I went with whatever would give me a black sky. I started seeing the greens visibly... the red looked white to my eyes with rays shining up into the sky. A passing car provided tail light streaks as it headed down into the valley.

As it continued to push south the rays got much better defined... I could now visually see the red with my eyes!

The rays almost seemed to attach to each other, and become a vibrant red wall above the green arc below, there was almost a faint pink/purple glow behind.

Then the rays came back as the show peaked! Here are a few images! Some passing clouds added a little depth to the scene, and you could briefly see some structures in the green band below.

After this the show started to subside... but I snapped a couple more images of the dissipating colors as the band went back north to its usual position!

I left my camera outside to timelapse... and to my surprise as I checked on it, the faint rays and bands were occasionally visible for about the next 2 hours. Not too shabby for being so far south and not having this in the forecast at all! Here is a time lapse video of the whole display... I recommend 720 or 1080 HD for the best viewing! I hope for more displays of the Northern Lights as we approach solar maximum the next couple of years!


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