The Winter Solstice is approaching, which means winter, which means cold weather and long nights. And for the kid in all of us, (well, in me at least) it brings up memories of the North Pole. Imagine going to work under the colorful aurora borealis (northern lights).
This gallery was originally published in December 2010.
Credit: Philippe Moussette, NASA
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.
During the IGY in 1957, the Aurora was so intense I was seen so far south as Mexico City.
PS - My job was to collect data on the Aurora during the time when they were trying to establish the Solar Wind theory.
The Aurora is not about cold weather, it's about the amount of ambient light in the sky where you are.
Having spent quite a bit of time in the Arctic of Alaska and the Yukon in my younger days, the Aurora is most active about 27 days after an intense day of solar flair activity. Also the best time for Auroral viewing is aroung midnight and during a year when the sun is most active, generally about every seven years. Back in the day we called that an International Geophysical Year (IGY). Just some info for those who are interested.
While there are tons of high-res large photos archived at NASA's spaceweather.com I also found a very large (1502x1127, high res, good detail) photo of the Near Earth Network station photo at another NASA site, esc.gsfc.nasa.gov/assets/images/Svalbard.png
I have never seen the lights in red before, but the pictures don't show how the real thing dances in the sky. That is what makes them really neat, is that they can be there one moment, then they can shoot across the sky and disappear or change shape near instantly.
Earlier I noted that I had never witnessed a display of the Aurora Borealis while growing up in Oklahoma, but that my first trip to Canada on the first night out of the canoe bivouac, we saw a great display. I did not mean that I was doubtful about whether the phenomena could be viewed from Oklahoma. I have no doubt that it can be. Just all depends on the conditions. I've only seen them on one other occasion and I was on a fishing trip near Katmai. Awe inspiring.
Its my dream to one day visit the North Pole, just to witness the Aurora. And one day I am gonna fulfill the dream. Thanks for the pictures, which will now decorate my desktop.
When I flew back from Anchorage Alaska one night I was seeing them first hand. BEAUTIFUL can't describe it. They were flashing around changing colors. TOTALLY AWSOME! Makes you really think about the Creator of Heaven and Earth Jehovah God.
http://www.exploratorium.edu/learning_studio/auroras/seethem.html Nice little link and shot of an aurora in Southern California. I remember a few years back, probabaly around the same time frame (2000-2001) of a nice picture of an aroura in the high desert around Victorville or Barstow California.
How can you not like the deep, rich, vibrant colors! I think it's great. But at the same time, I agree it's pretty grainy but I'm using it anyway!
I hope you all realize the significance of an Aurora as far south as Oklahoma. This is not trivial. The green glow is ionized oxygen, I can't remember what red is, probably ionized nitrogen. When the Sun's solar wind overcomes Earth's Van Allen belts, energy streams to the poles and usually stays there. Hence - the Aurora And Australis prefixes. Chill and marvel.
Get a better camera or allow us to download the full picture that was shot. If it was with a camera phone as it looks like, what a shame to be there and only have that to record these great views.
Great shots but lack sharpness. Very grainy and a waist of our time to view. Maybe the person that took them should get a camera with over 3 mega Pixels. Very sad I could not add this to my screen as a nice wallpaper.
@Vineet369 You don't have to go that far. depending on where you are you can go to Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, northern Scandinavia, Russia, etc.
@Vineet369 you don't need to go to the North Pole to see good aurora, in fact the expense would take all the pleasure out of it. We see aurora very often [weekly] here in Edmonton, some better than others. Bonus you can fly here on a commercial jet and stay in a hotel for reasonable rates. Dress warm, auroras are best viewed on clear crisp [-20C] nights. We even have an aurora watch site [http://www.aurorawatch.ca/] so you will know when to be ready and how good they will be.
I heard about it later over the next couple of days on NPR and at least one other radio news network.
I've seen pictures of Aurora from San Diego. It is rare, but if there is a significantly large CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) it does happen. It's not going to be the same thing as being in Fairbanks, AK, but it will be visible. If you know it's happening then a 15 second exposure, or more, with your camera will enhance the colors. Here's a link to an aurora photo from the Anza-Borrego Desert in S Cal. http://dennismammana.com/gallery/AUR-05-002.htm
About 15 years ago I saw a sky like the pic of the pink sky in Anchorage shown here. It was in the mountains of southern New Mexico at about 6600 ft elevation. 33 degrees 19' N latitude.
Well, about 25 years ago, I remember a very intense deep red aurora that was visible in New Orleans, Louisiana. It covered the sky from the northern horizon to directly overhead. I was working at WWL-TV at the time, and we all rushed up to the rooftop to get a better view. Even though we were located in the heart of the city, with all the usual bright lights, the aurora was so bright that it looked like the sky was aflame. Out weatherman was unhappy, because he was color blind to red, and could not see anything at all! I remember that we received hundreds of phone calls asking us what was burning and where the fire was. That was quite a night! Ralph W5JGV
I grew up in Oklahoma and never saw one.On my first trip to Canda, on the very first night out of the bivouac, we had a display that I will never ever forget. As to these photos, I found them to be more than adequate and applaudable. But then, in this day and age, everyone is a critic.
When I clicked on the small image, it brought me to; http://content.techrepublic.com.com/2347-12843_11-491697-491703.html?seq=6&tag=content;leftCol which I then saved to my machine. Here are the Aurora Oklahoma photo properties; 3072 X 2048 X 24BPP Seems more than enough for a desktop wallpaper. I'm using a thirty inch monitor and my resolution is 2560 X 1600 ... The other photos in the article are smaller, but still exceed the resolution of 19 inch monitors.
They won't look any better in a higher resolution. The aurorae have no visible detail, anyway.
Might take a look at the NASA website spaceweather.com - there is a very large gallery of aurorae, plus larger size photos than shown above.
Artymonn Good Eye. These shots are hard to get as the Camera must be on a Timer, a Stand and shot at a Very Slow Speed. Plus a fairly good Camera would help. padman Edmonton, Alberta
I was working in NC Nebraska at the time and it covered the whole northern half of the sky. It was one of the most spectacular natural events I've witnessed.
These same lights were also visible in the Keys. At the time we all thought it was some kind of secret military experiment that had painted the night sky red. Found out later it was only the aurora.
and of grumpy people commenting on free material ;) In the first, exposure times are long. In the latter, exposure does them no favors.
@seanferd ....thanks for your share!
Off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure aurorae were seen in in Florida in 2000. Not sure if the 2003 events were visible in FL or not.
South Carolina is too far south for us to have seen this event live, and I recall it was cloudy that night anyway. These are the first photos I've seen of it. The question of quality doesn't enter into my appreciation, as these photos bring me closer to what I missed than likely anything else will. No, they're not perfect, but they greatly improve my previous condition of having seen nothing at all. If they're not good enough for some of you, I'd appreciate the links to your own superior photos. Otherwise, quit complaining; something is better than nothing. You remind me of the guy who complained about his checker-playing dog because the mutt lost three games out of every five.