A two image panorama of the aurora over one of the rock outcroppings on Murphy Dome.
Last night I strapped on my snowshoes to take a walk around Murphy Dome. It’s not really my favorite spot, but it’s a convenient location with a good view and a mostly dark sky. It’s been overcast almost every night in Fairbanks lately, so I didn’t want to take a long drive just to get sopped in and come up with nothing. And what’s with this sore throat? Blargh.
I was really hoping to catch the tail end of the Geminids meteor shower, but had no such luck. Clouds were already filling much of the southern sky right where I needed to be looking. It’s ok, though. The Milky Way and the aurora proved to be excellent distractions.
Airglow and the Milky Way
The aurora kind of crept up on me when I wasn’t paying attention. Wind gets funneled through this spot, completely stripping an area of snow behind this rock outcropping.
Oh man, the wind was howling! I couldn’t really photograph the spruce trees because they were moving way too much. It was a full 15 degrees F warmer on the summit than it was at home. It was near freezing, which seems crazy for mid-December. Even with the cutting wind, it didn’t seem too cold. I couldn’t even wear my jacket because I got too hot.
A little ways down the hill
The clouds are closing in. Walking on the snow crust was pretty easy most of the time, but every once in a while I’d punch through. Not fun for knees.
By midnight there wasn’t really anything to look out anymore. Clouds filled the sky except for a little slit near the horizon. I could see that the aurora was still fairly active at times, but I wasn’t going to get to see much of it. Time to head home.
There are quite a few more photos from this day on my photo page: https://lwpetersen.smugmug.com/Date/2014/December/2014-12-15/