It was a night to remember, when the sky exploded with a jaw-dropping display of Northern Lights.
Warnings went out around the world and the aurora meters were hitting high numbers. By sunset we were charged up with high expectations of seeing the aurora in high gear dancing in the twilight. We were not disappointed.
From our location at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre near Churchill, Manitoba (latitude 58° North), we see aurora almost every clear night, even when indicators are low.
But this night, the Index was reading 7 on the scale of 0 to 9. I was afraid, after all the effort to come north to see the Lights, the Lights would abandon us and head south. Not so!
The night did start with the Lights in the south, as shown in the panorama image at top. It takes in a full 360°, with the aurora arcing from east to west across the southern sky in Orion. The north over the Centre is clear.
But the curtains soon moved back north and engulfed most of our sky for most of the rest of the night.
Participants in our aurora tour group took their aurora “selfies,” and just looked up in awe at one of nature’s great sky shows. When the last of the group turned in at 2:30 a.m. the Lights were still going.
What follows is a selection — just a few! — of the still shots I took. I also shot time-lapse sequences and real-time videos. All those will take more editing to turn them into a music video, still to come.
A lone observer gazes skyward at the start of a wonderful aurora display on March 6, 2016, as the curtains begin to appear and dance in the deep blue twilight. This was at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, Churchill, Manitoba.
A lone observer gazes at an array of colourful curtains of aurora during an active display, March 6, 2016, with curtains in the evening twilight adding blue tints to the sky and tops of the curtains, as well as the greens and reds from oxygen. Curtains toward the horizon are more yellow due to atmospheric extinction. Jupiter is rising at left, then near opposition.
Auroral curtains converge at the zenith in the evening twilight during a Kp Index 7 night of aurora in Churchill, Manitoba. Blue twilight adds the blue tints to the sky and curtains.
Our group of Learning Vacations tourists enjoy the start of a fine display of Northern Lights at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, March 6, 2016. As curtains appear to the east, another array of curtains shines to the west behind them with a strong purple tint lighting the sky and ground. The Andromeda Galaxy sits amid the curtains.
Aurora watchers looking south to a bright curtain of Northern Lights while other curtains rippled behind them to the north. This was a fabulous all-sky display, March 6, 2016. The temperature was about -25° C.
The green aurora lights the ground and snow green in a spectacular display March 6, 2016. This is looking northeast from the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, Churchill, Manitoba.
A series of curtains of aurora, in a layered series across the sky, from the March 6, 2016 display in Churchill, Manitoba,
The aurora over the Churchill Northern Studies Centre building, home to Arctic research and to many programs for tourists about northern ecology and science. The March Learning Vacations aurora tour group experienced a fabulous display this night, March 6, 2016.
Some of our group of Learning Vacations aurora tourists outside the Churchill Northern Studies Centre enjoying the sky show on March 6, 2016 on a night with a Level 5 to 7 aurora.
What do you see in the swirling patterns of aurora curtains at the zenith? They rapidly take many forms as they move about. This was the wonderful display of March 6, 2016.
— Alan, March 9, 2016 / © 2016 Alan Dyer / www.amazingsky.com