Ode to Aurora

Posted by lwpetersen | September 24, 2011 | aurora borealis

Yesterday was exciting because NPR did an equinox post on their picture show and used some of my aurora photos. Here’s a link to the post:
NPR: Auroras on Autumnal Equinox

The title is a little misleading since two of the three photos were from the August 29th storm and one was from earlier this month, not really on the equinox. It’s a fun post anyway. Here’s a bunch more photos I’ve taken in Fairbanks:

Also, this video from the International Space Station has been making its way around the internet, but if you haven’t seen it yet you need to. If you have seen it, you should probably watch it again.

Time-lapse courtesy of NASA.

This gorgeous view of the aurora was taken from the International Space Station as it crossed over the southern Indian Ocean on September 17, 2011. The time-laps made from still images spans the time period from 12:22 to 12:45 PM ET.

While aurora are often seen near the poles, this aurora appeared at lower latitudes due to a geomagnetic storm – the insertion of energy into Earth’s magnetic environment called the magnetosphere – caused by a coronal mass ejection from the sun that erupted on September 14. The storm was a moderate one, rated with what’s called a KP index of 6 on a scale that goes from 0 to 9, caused by just a glancing blow from the CME. As particles from the incoming CME moved into the magnetosphere they traveled around to the back side — or night side, since it is on the opposite side from the sun — of Earth and then funneled down onto Earth’s poles and even lower. As the particles bombarded oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, the atoms released a photon of light that we see as the beautiful colors of the aurora.

Credit: NASA

Thanks for sharing!

Blog Comments

Add a comment

*Please complete all fields correctly

Related Posts

Aurora at Angel Rocks
Posted by lwpetersen | February 2, 2017
It sure doesn’t feel like it, but it’s been over a year since I’ve published a blog-post. I’ve still been writing, editing, and updating, but not publishing new things. I’ve...
Alignment of Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Moon with Aurora Borealis
Posted by lwpetersen | May 28, 2016
I woke up early to photograph a cool planetary alignment of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter with a quarter moon. I lucked out because the aurora was still going strong at...
Posted by lwpetersen | December 6, 2015
The first impressive aurora borealis display I witnessed this season was shortly after midnight on September 11. It broke up fairly quickly, becoming diffuse, but it was brilliant for about...