Wee Hours Adventure — Last Night’s Aurora And More To Come

At the appointed time of 10:30 p.m. (CDT) last night (Sept. 27) the aurora made a ghostly appearance low in the northern sky. A series of faint plumes faded in and out of view but they were only visible from dark, rural skies. Bob King

True to form the aurora  played the trickster last night. When we expected a G2 moderate storm, we saw instead a faint though beautiful series of feathery plumes across the northern sky.  By 11 p.m. they had all but disappeared, so I drove further north to do some telescopic observing and wide-field photography.

Green and purple rays pierce the clouds around 1:45 this morning. Also visible are bright patches and the Big Dipper (center and right). It was a fairly bright, easy-to-see display but it all occurred within about 25° of the horizon. Details: ISO 2500, 25 second exposure, f/2.8 and 20mm lens. Bob King

About 1:15 a.m. the northern horizon began to brighten up again. Sensing another wave of auroral excitement in the offing I packed up and drove to a site with a great view of the northern sky. This time the aurora put some heart into it. Swirls of silhouetted clouds added to the beauty of the scene. Like watching the tentacles of an octopus in slow motion, rays unfurled from near the horizon and drew back again. Not a car drove by. In the silence of the night I had found sustenance. Isn’t that the reason we look up anyway?

Look at those cool clouds. A few clouds add interest to an auroral display. Bob King

But it was late, and I reluctantly got back in the car and put the aurora at my back. The storm never registered more than a Kp 5, but numbers will never be an accurate measure of an aurora’s beauty. And now the good news. The forecasters are calling for another minor storm (G1) tonight from about 7-10 p.m. CDT, so keep your eyes open for more.