MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2015
"Eighteen Below Aurora"
Last night before leaving work I checked the aurora forecast and it indicated that the aurora was going to be at storm level before too long. Naturally, this got me pretty excited as it has been a while since our last good aurora show! On the drive home I kept looking at the sky hoping to see some lights, but there was still a little bit of daylight left. Also, the almost-full moon was rising. Still, I figured with a kp index of 6.33, the aurora would be visible even over the moonlight. When I got home, I monitored the forecast site and kept an eye on the auroral oval image. The oval showed promise. It was pretty thick and starting to show some red, but it looked like it would be awhile yet before it was centered over northern Minnesota.
Around 10 PM it was starting to look REALLY good, so I bundled up and headed out to watch for the lights. The moonlight was very strong, making it quite difficult to see the thin green line of aurora that was in the sky. I kept having to take a picture to see if the green glow was still there. I sat on the Lake Superior shoreline about a mile from our house for an hour and a half in the minus 5 degree air, waiting for the lights to flare up. Unfortunately, they never did. I waited until just after midnight then decided to drive inland and try a different location. As I was driving inland along Old Highway 61 and passing by a beaver swamp I noticed a bunch of moose tracks all over the side of the road, coming off the swamp. I slowed down to check out the tracks. They were everywhere! The moose must have just wandered all around this area of the road and swamp.
When I looked back up at the sky, there were some bright wisps of green starting to burn into the sky. The lights were picking up! I was only about a quarter mile from where I planned to go, so I hurried over to that spot. Once I got there, I hurried to set up my camera and start making photographs. You never know how long these little flares of activity are going to last, and you certainly don't want to miss it! As it turns out, this flare-up only lasted about 15 minutes. The shot you see here is my favorite from that 15 minute time period. The temperature was minus 18 when I made this photograph, so I decided to title it "Eighteen Below Aurora".
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 17-40mm
Focal length: 19mm
Shutter speed: 15 seconds