Whenever I am north, I always check two things: what is the geomagnetic activity and is the sky dark and clear?
We were in Scotland last week visiting our son and travelled to Inverness to see the sights up there. We scouted out a good aurora viewing spot (on the 5th floor of a parking garage) just in case. The sky was clear. I knew the geomagnetic activity would need to be at least kp 5 to have a chance of seeing anything, especially from the city. I set my alarm for 3 AM because that was when the predictions said we might have enough activity. I checked the aurora web site and saw this:
Geomagnetic activity above kp 6! A G2 geomagnetic storm!
It was cold, but we went outside. It looked like there was a green glow around the moon.
I had my tiny travel tripod, and it did not reach high enough to see the horizon over the parking garage walls. But there was a handy grit container that I could put the tripod over to see over the wall.
I had read that unless you are very far north, the lights are not overhead but on the horizon, so I aimed my camera at the northern horizon.
Originally, the light was dim, but then it got brighter and it was green and it moved! What a treat! Then it went away, and it was time to get out of the cold and get a little more sleep before our tour in the morning.
Unfortunately, we did not get to see the Northern Lights again on this trip. I hope to see them again sometime in the future!
Camera geek info:
Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 8 second exposure, ISO 1250
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus at infinity
Movie geek info:
Pictures cropped to use lower right quarter
Title screen 2 sec, other pictures 0.5 sec
Would you believe that when I lived in the northern Canadian Rockies, I used to take the Aurora for granted? Sometimes it was pretty, sure, but then so are rainbows; nothing to get all excited about. Now that I’m in Arizona, I’d love to see the Northern Lights again — and I’d give them the attention they deserve.
Since I live on the Texas Gulf Coast, the odds of me seeing the Northern Lights at home are pretty close to 0. This is the first time I’ve seen even a glimpse of them.