The northern lights returned to our prairie sky in a colourful display near solstice.
Last night, Sunday, June 7, I headed out to a nearby abandoned farmyard to shoot the planets setting into the western twilight. But as the sky darkened the faint arc of an aurora appeared to the northeast, promising a fine show after midnight.
Sure enough, as the sky got dark, which doesn’t happen until very late now at 50° north in mid-June, the aurora began to dance.
The top image is a frame from the display at its best. It is one of 400 frames I shot for a time-lapse sequence.
This image is from the start of the sequence, just as the aurora was beginning to get good, with curtains of green laced with tints of magenta and purple. At this time of year the tops of the curtains often look blue, as they scatter direct sunlight streaming over the pole.
However, the colours were not visible to the unaided eye — only the camera brought out the colours, as this display never got intensely bright to the eye.
Toward the end of the sequence the display began to spread out, becoming patchy and less colourful, a typical behaviour after a substorm outburst.
More activity may be in store this week. So keep looking up! And check Spaceweather.com for alerts.
— Alan, June 8, 2015 / © 2015 Alan Dyer / www.amazingsky.com
What a fabulous night this was! Forewarned about an impending solar storm I headed to the site of a rustic barn near home to shoot the Northern Lights.
The night started with cloud but upon looking out after midnight (it pays never to go to bed too early!) the skies were clear. Checking Spaceweather.com showed an active auroral oval lit up red and Storm in Progress warnings!
That was all the cue I needed to pack up the gear and head over to the old barn site where I have been shooting time-lapses all this week.
The aurora remained quiet and diffuse for the first hour and a half, but then about 2 a.m., the substorm hit. Within seconds the curtains began to light up with well-defined rays and beams shooting to the zenith. And they danced.
The notable feature of this display, as with one in May 2013, was the blue and purple colour of the tops of the curtains. I think this is partly due to sunlight illuminating the tops of the curtains, possible at this time of year when the upper atmosphere is perpetually lit by the midnight Sun.
From the start I shot with two cameras taking time-lapses (the main still image at top is a frame from one of the movies). Then toward the end of the night I switched to just shooting still images framed to suit the curtains towering up to the zenith.
As above, I also shot a “selfie” of me shooting the vertical image in the middle of the set.
But below is the result of a night of shooting time-lapse movies and stills, in a montage set to music. The link takes you to my Vimeo site. Do turn on HD mode.
I hope you enjoy the video!
– Alan, June 8, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer (video and stills)