Thursday, 30 August 2018

Aurora! - 27th August

We might be in the middle of solar minimum, but when it comes to space weather things don't always happen the way you expect.  On the 21st of August a weak and slow moving coronal mass ejection left the sun, with solar astronomers puzzled as to the source region.  Initially it was thought this would hit on the 24th/25th August, but it wasn't until 26th of August when it did, and also a large crack opened up in Earths magnetic field, the solar wind, fuelled from the CME poured in creating a strong G3 magnetic storm with a kP of 7.  Being in Iceland and under the auroral oval I had been following this closely online, alas on the night of the 26th there was cloud and rain.  The following evening on the 27th was forecast clear with a ground frost so I knew there was a chance of seeing any reverberations as the storm subsided.  Initially as it was dusk high cloud to the north masqueraded as northern lights, but then looking outside to the north east I saw the unmistakable sight of the aurora.  Racing outside I took a number of pictures setting the frame I wanted before settling into a timelapse of the event.  It was a brief affair, over with the naked eye in 15-20 minutes, with fainter more diffuse aurora visible to the camera a little longer.  I persevered for a while before clouds stole the show, but, with every aurora it gives a memory that is never forgotten.

The timelapse is 134 frames with 3 frames per minute, so, roughly over 45 minutes.  Camera used was the aged and trusty Canon 350D, ISO800, 20s, with a sigma 10-20mm zoom on 10mm f4.  The chill in the air and snow on the mountains brought home the fact winter is getting ever closer, reinforced when you can see the Pleiades rising over the tree on the right.  Castor and Pollux in Gemini can be seeing skirting the northern horizon in the still peach coloured twilight arc up here at 66 degrees north.  This was the only aurora i've seen on this trip but I was glad I saw some.