The Sky on Fire with Northern Lights

At last … a good display of northern lights towering up the sky.

The evening of Tuesday, September 4 provided the best aurora display I’ve seen in recent years. It was fairly bright and reached up to the zenith and beyond into the south. Colours were green, with just a hint of high-altitude red visible to the naked eye. The camera picks up the colours of an aurora better than the eye can see.

I shot this aurora from my rural backyard. The display came up quite quickly over 10 to 15 minutes starting about 11 p.m., and, as usual, started as an arc across the northeast then rose higher to cover all the northern sky up to the zenith, as shown in this horizon-to-zenith image. The light from the waning gibbous Moon just off camera to the right illuminated the foreground. The show was short-lived. By 12:30 a.m. the auroral curtains had faded into obscurity.

– Alan, September 4, 2012


The Windblown Stars


Here’s the “long” version of an image I posted a few days ago. This combines 430 exposures to make one long star trail image.

A bright meteor appeared in one of the hundreds of 5-second-long exposures and registers in the composite, streaking diagonally across the star trails. The stars circle around Polaris at top. The horizontal streaks are clouds blowing from left to right across the sky during the night. The blades of the windmill in the Wintering Hills wind farm are blurring by the long exposures.

It’s been a productive few nights shooting out at the wind farm, capturing scenes of harvesting the wind!

– Alan, September 3, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer


Blue Moonrise

This was the Full Moon rising on the night of another much-publicized “Blue Moon.” This was moonrise on Friday, August 31, 2012.

Of course, the Moon doesn’t look blue. Indeed, smoke and dust in the air made it look a dim yellow. Though this wasn’t the official Harvest Moon (that comes next month), it should have been, as around here in southern Alberta the harvest is well underway, thus the swathed fields and hay bales.

The Full Moon sits in the blue band of Earth’s shadow, rimmed on the top by the pink twilight effect called the Belt of Venus, caused by sunlight illuminating the high atmosphere to the east.

A couple of windmills from the large Wintering Hills wind farm add to the evening scene. I’ve spent the last couple of evenings shooting in the wind farm. More images are to come!

For this image, I combined six exposures in a High Dynamic Range stack to compress the wide range of brightnesses. Boosting the colour vibrancy also brings out the twilight colours.

– Alan, August 31, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer