Maybe it’s because of the name aurora, which means ‘dawn’, but that’s exactly when the northern lights put on one great show this morning. With clouds constantly a bother this late summer, many of us have been thwarted in viewing all manner of conjunctions, comets and moonrises. Not this morning. I was determined to see Comet Oukaimeden near Orion just before dawn. And that’s exactly how I happened to be up to catch a surprisingly fine aurora.
One of the keys to maximizing enjoyment of the aurora is to have a place you can get to with a low northern horizon. At least from mid-northern latitudes, lots of activity often occurs very low in the northern sky.
We were already primed for northern lights because of the NOAA space weather forecast, so when I looked out the window at 4 a.m., there they were.
I jumped in the car and sped to a country road not far from home. Arriving around 4:30 a.m. several pale green arcs snaked across the north, and within minutes they erupted with massive parallel rays. To the eye, the tall rays were colorless, but they loved the time exposure afforded them by the camera.
The pictures were taken using a 17mm lens at f/2.8, ISO 800 and exposure times around 15 seconds.
While I did get to see my comet in the nick of time, the northern lights made it more than worth my while. I hope you got to see them, too.
The display continued deep into twilight and no doubt carried into darker skies farther west of my location. There’s still a possibility for minor auroras early tonight. I hope so. Two 4 a.m. stints in a row would kill me.