Ill admit, I’m an animal man. I really don’t know anything about planets and space, and I wont wake up to try to spot a comet, but the aurora does something to me. It is the grizzly bear of the cosmos, a legendary beast that, when encountered, turns a man into a humble and breathless soul. These surreal, spiritual ribbons of strange light symbolize the North country, which I am passionately in love with. I went school in Fairbanks, Alaska during the late 90’s, during an awesome solar maximum (cyclical high of solar flare activity which causes the aurora) and saw amazing displays on regular basis. My GPA certainly shed a point or two under the stiff solar winds. After enduring several years of solar flare minimum since then, we are now reaching another maximum, and so far, its been a hell of a show. In my last post, I showed some images from Homer during an epic KP-6 intensity storm. Recently, I put the total to video to simulate the movement. Normal video cameras are not sensitive enough to light to capture aurora, so this is the closest I can come to a video of the show. I am new to creating time lapse videos, and have quite a bit to learn yet. This was my first stab at it.
Right now I am in Fairbanks, basking in balmy, late winter lows of 20 below to make the most of the activity while the clear winter skies allow for higher chances of visibility. Last night they appeared faintly at first, but soon dominated the darkness. What must it have been like for the nomadic Inuit on the ice to see these displays? Legends speak of restless dead ancestors. Gives me chills.
The perfect aurora photo is as elusive as a wolverine. As usual, this display took me by surprise, so I wasn’t set up to place an old homestead cabin or something really cool in the foreground. I will still be hunting in the cold darkness for the next few years for that perfect image that symbolizes the North like nothing else.
Next year will be even a little better. Go see the lights!