Some of you might have heard that a moderate solar storm was forecast for this past weekend, which brings the Northern Lights further south than they are normally seen. Being in a place pretty far north, and quite dark, we figured this was a great opportunity for us warm weather creatures to observe this phenomenon.
So we pack up our dinghy with the photography gear, warm clothes, and a thermos of hot tea, and headed off to a small island so we could get a better view of the northern horizon. We arrived at twilight, with the cresent moon setting in the west.
We tried to avoid disturbing the harbor seals and cormorants surrounding the island, and set up to wait for the excitement.
Since the best viewing times for an aurora are around midnight, we had some time to kill. So I warmed up by getting some pictures of the Milky Way high and bright in the southern sky.
I did a fair amount of research on the technical issues with this kind of photography, but hadn’t every really done it. I was surprised how easy it was, and how beautiful the images came out. I quickly realized that these images are pretty, but they would be the same everywhere, so the key to making them more interesting is adding an interesting foreground.
That’s a little bit better. It gives you a little sense of place with the image. But I am pretty sure I can find something prettier for the foreground.
Oh, yes… back to the aurora. It did make an appearance, unfortunately it really wasn’t visible to the naked eye, but the camera did pick up the purple and green lights in the northern sky.
This first image is about what we saw with eyeballs Version 1.0
The Nikon was able to pick out the faint glowing curtains of the aurora.
The bright dotted lines you see are airplanes moving while the shutter is open for the long exposure. I suspect that without the lights of town to the north the display would have been more impressive to the unaided eye.
We are keeping an eye on the movements of Dorian. Both out of concern for people and places we know and love in its path, and to remember that after it finishes leaving a trail of tears behind it in the Bahamas and the Southeastern USA, it heads north as a significantly reduced, but still important storm. We have several options for places to hide if we need to.