Aurora season

Spring is aurora season, and just before midnight last night a display of the northern lights lit up the sky. Taking a test shot from the window confirmed the alert from my phone app, so I headed out the door. The display had already started to subside once I’d defrosted the car and got to a dark spot. But I got there in time to capture a sequence of 50 frames. Enough for a (very!) short time-lapse…

A meteor can be seen around half way through the time-lapse sequence, just to the right of the Andromeda galaxy. You might need to download the HD version to make it out… Here’s the ‘test’ shot taken before heading out. The display was pretty strong at this point…

Aurora Season: Aurora Borealis from Yorkshire, England

Image details: Nikon D7000Nikkor 35mm f1.8G at f1.8. All shots were 10 second exposures at iso 640. Edited and animated in Photoshop CS6.

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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Standing on the shoulders of giants - Orion rises over Helvellyn in the English Lake DistrictOrion rises over the jagged slopes of Helvellyn in the Lake District. The figure standing in silhouette on England’s third highest mountain is dwarfed by the constellation.

Taken from the lower slopes of Striding Edge, a friend wilfully volunteered to stand on the edge of a precipice as a setting crescent moon illuminates the distant snow-capped peaks.

Using the barn door tracker at half speed allowed me to effectively double the exposure time before the motion blur of either the ground and the sky became noticeable.

This technique combined with the altitude and the dark skies of Cumbria helped bring out the classic deep sky objects. The Great Orion nebula, Horesehead nebula and Flame nebula all make an appearance. With a hint of Barnard’s loop just visible.

The really comes into it’s own with this type of wide angle constellation shot. Making the reddish gold of Betelgeuse and the brilliant white of Rigel stand out spectacularly in the scene.

Image details: Nikon D7000Nikkor 35mm f1.8G at f2.8. 30 seconds at iso 1600 using didymium filter and softon filter. Tracked at half speed with barn door tracker.

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Aurora through the mist

Last night a solar storm hit Earth producing one of the strongest auroras of this solar cycle. Unfortunately for me, a misty evening drowned out much of the show. All but for 20 minutes when the silent display flared up strongly enough for me to catch a glimpse… Continue reading Aurora through the mist

Northern lights

The Aurora Borealis is a pretty rare sight from England. The last time I saw one was back in January 2005! Last night however, everything came together and the illusive northern lights showed up once more.

I know from experience that it pays to check if any auroras are forecast (99 times out of 100 they aren’t!). Websites like spaceweather.com or noaa.gov provide this info, and even offer services to alert you by phone. Checking last night showed an aurora in progress, so I dropped everything and shot out the door. The animation below shows the scene around 5 minutes before the most active part of the display.

Aurora Borealis over york uk

I was able to get out to a pretty good location with an attractive little church and less light pollution just prior to a 15 minute burst of stronger activity, when the skies lit up with fast moving curtains of red and green.

Aurora Borealis from york england 2014

The display died down after this, but continued for at least a few hours more, visible as a shimmering curtain of light hanging above the light pollution of York.

aurora york uk 2014

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