NORTHERN LIGHTS may be more frequent: Two weeks ago, we saw some Colorado photos of the Lights. According to NORAD, Boulder, they may be more frequent for a while. They predict increasing solar storm activity through 2024. The magnetic field of the sun reverses polarity every 11 years, meaning its magnetic north and south poles flip.
Aurora for Lyons! March 23-24, 2023, by Keith Gleason, Lyons astronomer
The aurora was not visually spectacular at all, it appeared merely as slowly shifting gray-greenish patches of light that were difficult to distinguish between being the aurora or just scattered light off of drifting clouds. The bright glow right next to the horizon, though, was the give-away; usually that patch of sky is pitch black, either with or without clouds.
However, the camera sensitivity and long exposure times lets the imagery see what the eye could not: both green and red aurora originating from behind the clouds, with occasional brief hints of columns and rays.
It wasn’t the best of nights for viewing the Northern Lights, but this is the first real display I’ve seen from Colorado in about a decade … so I’m a happy camper and I thank Mother Nature for finally giving us a break in the clouds!
WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DO YOU USE TO CAPTURE SKY SCENES?
The time lapse spans from approximately 11:30 pm to 1 am MDT, March 23/24, 2023, from the foothills NW of Lyons Colorado (X Bar 7 area, Stagecoach Trail. Tripod-mounted NEX-5r camera with 18-55mm lens, 30 second exposures, f/3.5 – f/5.0, ISO 1600-3200.
CAN WE SEE THIS AGAIN SOON?
Things have quieted down again. It’s only when the “planetary K index” gets up to around 8, at the same time as our local midnight (when the aurora is “pushed” away from the sunlight), do we have a chance in Colorado to see it. Oh, and of course, no overcast! It all came together last night. No sign that I know of that we’ll get a repeat soon.