Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Alaska Aurora Adventure: Day 3

Another long, busy day.  Began with breakfast and followed by my lecture on viewing and photographing the aurora. My friend and colleague from TWAN (The World at Night) LeRoy Zimmerman from Fairbanks joined us for the program and helped me explain some of the intricacies of aurora shooting. After the lecture we headed out to lunch followed by the Fairbanks Visitor Center and the University of Alaska Museum. 

This evening we headed out for a few hours to see what aurora might be visible. Conditions didn't look good, and sure enough, we saw nothing. We did see some faint green on our digital images--not the sort of auroral light people came thousands of miles to see--but it was something nonetheless.  At least folks got a chance to try out their cameras and tripods in the cold and dark, and that alone is a learning experience.  Not the sort of thing one wants to learn about while auroras are dancing overhead.  I kept tabs on the Fairbanks aurora webcam as well as a number of auroral indicators while we were out there; nothing appeared promising at all, so after a few hours we packed it in.  Early (and long) day tomorrow so it seemed like the prudent thing to do.

Of course when we returned to the hotel I checked out the spaceweather.com website and saw a number of aurora photos shot from Canada TONIGHT!!  The activity must have shut off completely before it became dark in Fairbanks, because we got none of it. And then, as if to add insult to injury, after being in my room for half an hour or so I realized that the very faint auroral light was beginning to develop into an arc--nothing that would be visible, but something that might have shown up in our photos.  Well, there's always tomorrow.

We'll be at Chena Hot Springs tomorrow (Tuesday) night and should have about four hours of viewing there.  If anything appears we'll now be ready. If it doesn't, people will be able to follow me around to try their hand at some night sky shooting with some very nice foreground features.  Hopefully we'll have some nice images to post!

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