And then, there was the second mad dash that occurred this week. (Read Part 1 here.) After the Timeraiser event at MacDonald Island Art Gallery, I headed home and decided that I was not going out - I had way too much on the schedule the following day. But, the aurora outlook kept getting better and the skies cleared. Oh boy. And then, the lights were out. It was crunch time - either I ignore it and go to bed, wired (and take it for granted that we've been getting these amazing shows) - or I just go! With an encouraging nudge from Kevin I frantically grabbed my gear and was able to make arrangements to meet up with my dear friend, Tracy.
We met in the dark and set up shop in our first location, with the sounds of our hoots and hollers letting everyone and everything around us aware of our presence. (We can get a little excited. It happens.) On this night, the aurora was ever-changing - more than I had ever experienced before. There was a wide array of colour throughout the night... pastel pinks and pure white were some surprises - at times we wondered if clouds had rolled in but it was aurora throughout the entire sky. And the most unique phenomenon of the night was a flickering that I don't recall seeing before. The lights would pulse quickly but instead of their normal "dance", it would flicker and jump to another section of the sky, flitting about like an electrical storm. Wild!
And then it was off to try some other locations. Here, we encountered gorgeous lines above the treeline that absolutely captivated me. Later, Tracy discovered that we had experienced black aurora. Wow. We were treated to a few more bright flare-ups as well. As the clock creeped up to 3am we decided to pack up. Tracy set up a fun self-portrait to put a cap on our fabulous evening. Click on her "buddy selfie" at the bottom to check out Tracy's stunning photography via her webpage - or check out her latest adventures on her Facebook page: here. There you'll find her point of view on our night out, chasing the aurora. Now it's time to recover and get ready for the next time!
Solar cycles, geomagnetic storms, magnetospheric disturbances, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and high speed solar wind streams all have to do with the wonder that we witness as Aurora Borealis. There's so much to learn! We continue to experience some utterly amazing displays of Aurora this month due to a steady supply of geomagnetic storms. It's hard to keep up with it! I check aurora and weather forecasts throughout the day and then debate if I should head out. You don't know exactly how it will all play out and if your efforts will be rewarded. Sometimes there is great planning in an outing - and other times, it's a mad dash out the door in your pj's. So far this month, there's been a planned outing and two mad dashes!
On April 10th (creeping into the 11th), I was heading to bed rather late. I hadn't checked the forecasts and I wasn't feeling very well - I just needed to sleep. As I was drifting off to sleep I heard my husband utter something about an aurora red alert. I stumbled, in a grumpy, sleepy fog, to the window to be instantaneously jolted awake by the display in the night sky. I ran for my camera, took some test shots and ran back and forth to the bedroom to show Kevin just how awesome it was. I ran outside in my pj's, in awe of the colour variation in the pillars. Now, thanking my husband for waking me up, I dashed to the car and off I went, in search of better places to compose my images. (Seriously, I think the municipality should have a big switch that turns off all outside lights during these events so we can all marvel from the comfort of our homes!)
With my tripod precariously balanced inside the vehicle and sprouting out the sunroof, I looked something akin to a submarine captain on the lookout! The display continued to dazzle with brilliant greens, stunning reds/purples and awe inspiring coronas directly overhead. (Click on the images below to check out my "though-the-sunroof" series!)
The following evening the conditions still looked great - my husband was able to join me and we made plans to head out. It's sure a blessing to have a husband that not only is such an encourager of my all my artist endeavours, but enjoys photography as much as I do! It's also a blessing to be part of a larger community and we've met some fantastic friends through the Wood Buffalo Photography Club - two of which we were able to meet up with on this night.
As I have mentioned before, aurora chasing requires patience. It will often die down or be quite faint right from the beginning and you have the choice of waiting (usually late into the night) to see if the lights will pick up. On this particular night, the display was there and we could see some variation in colour, but it was faint. I had planned to shoot star trails if this was the case. And the effect of the low lying aurora was a bonus!
And then, there's still the second mad dash that occurred this week to share with you! Check out part two for what I encountered this week!