Aurora and eclipse – a sky alive!

I want to share a few pictures from the past 24 hours featuring two spectacular sky events – yesterday’s down under total eclipse of the sun and last night’s spectacular northern lights. A big thanks to all the photographers who’ve shared their images. Enjoy!

“Awesome night,” wrote Shawn Malone of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, with the “aurora very bright as soon as it was dark enough, and never let up, even with cloud cover creeping in. Very strong activity, sometimes overhead and to the south.” Copyright Shawn Malone/www.facebook.com/LakeSuperiorPhoto

Wow – the entire northern sky on fire! Credit: Shawn Malone/www.facebook.com/LakeSuperiorPhoto

Despite clouds, Brett Grandson of Duluth got this gorgeous picture just after midnight of the aurora and its green reflection in Lake Superior from Duluth’s Brighton Beach. Details: 12mm lens (full frame), f4.5,  106 seconds exposure at ISO 1000. Copyright: Brett Grandson

A hot air balloon floats above the sun in as a solar eclipse near Cairns, in Queensland state, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Starting just after dawn, the eclipse cast its 150-kilometer (95-mile) shadow in Australia’s Northern Territory, crossed the northeast tip of the country and was swooping east across the South Pacific. Credit: AP Photo/Tourism Queensland, David Barker

The last bit of sunlight shines like a diamond on a ring right before the moon (in silhouette) completely covers the sun in total eclipse. Credit: AP Photo/Tourism Queensland

The totally eclipsed sun is surrounded by the rarefied and feathery solar atmosphere called the corona. It’s only visible to the naked during a total solar eclipse. Credit: AP Photo/Tourism Queensland

Nice overall view of totality. Good thing for that hole in the clouds! Credit: Romeo Durscher via NASA

Closeup of the sun during totality shows pink flames of incandescent hydrogen gas around its edge called prominences. They’re gas clouds are held aloft by solar magnetic fields. Credit: AP Photo/Tourism Queensland

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

7 thoughts on “Aurora and eclipse – a sky alive!

    • Brian,
      The aurora started as soon as it was dark over the U.S. last night Nov. 13. I wasn’t aware until later in the evening because we were overcast. The display continued all night into the morning hours.

  1. I live in Southern California, and for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, the sun seemed to have a halo, it was really visible with polarized glasses. I was wondering if this had anything to do with the solar eclipse, and the location of the moons shadow? Or was it atmospheric?

    • Hi Kelly,
      Your last hunch was correct – atmospheric. You probably saw either a corona – small, disk of colored light closely surrounding the sun – or a true halo which is much larger and narrower. Halos are about four fists held at arm’s length wide. Neither is connected to the solar eclipse and the moon’s shadow.

  2. We were watching last night driving from Duluth to grand rapids after it cleared. What we saw was pretty ordinary, nothing like the spectacular display pi ctures you posted. We arrived in GR about 10:30 and aurora pretty much gone or absorbed by cityi lights.

    We have been unlucky this year with the persistent beautiful displays. I do not think we have seen one.

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