Night Sky Treats

Sunday evening the “stars were in alignment.”  A CME (coronal mass ejection) had collided with Earth’s thermosphere and the Kp Index (Kp originates from “planetarische Kennziffer”), which measures geomagnetic disturbance, was fluctuating 4-8.  When the KP index is above 5, I have a reasonably good chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis at my magnetic latitude (proximity to magnetic north rather than true north). Add to that a sliver of a waning crescent moon that wouldn’t rise until after 4:30am, a cloud free sky, no smoke or haze, and low relative humidity, and the conditions were all right to enjoy the Aurora Borealis, the Milky Way, and twinkling stars.   I left home at 10:30pm and headed up Elk Meadows Road to an open area with an unobstructed view of the northern sky and no light pollution.  By 11:30 I was set up.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Looking north, I saw a visible dome of the Aurora Borealis for the entire time I was there (about 4 hours).  Occasionally, beams of light, reminiscent of “Bat Signals” (but without the bat) would extend up into the sky.

I set my camera to take continuous 30″ exposures — continuous being a relative term, as it takes some time between between those long exposures for the camera to become ready again.

Here is 90 minutes worth of such exposures (80 of them), condensed into 3 seconds.

And the same 80 exposures stacked into one image:


Meanwhile, if I looked the other direction the Milky Way stood out bold and beautiful.

Now and then a shooting star streaked across the sky.

And the lights kept dancing…

This time lapse has a slower frame rate than the previous, and is from later in the night.

About the time I was ready to call it a night the Big Dipper had moved into position over the edge of the Aurora Borealis dome.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>