Saturday night’s show

Aurora Borealis (panorama)

We went down to Bois­se­vain on the week­end to help out with the Dun­rea Flea Mar­ket[1]It rather out­grew the avail­able space in Dun­rea., and stayed over at our friends’ farm­house a few miles south of town. There were a few shows put on by the North­ern Lights that night; I caught one of them. They danced for about 20 min­utes while I watched. Here are some of the pho­tos I got.

I tried to cap­ture a panora­ma, to show just how much of the sky was involved. Unfor­tu­nate­ly my image-stitch­ing pro­gram balked at cre­at­ing a panora­ma; the auro­ra were mov­ing too much for the soft­ware to find sim­i­lar­i­ties in the pho­tos. I man­u­al­ly aligned them instead.

Aurora Borealis (panorama)

And I did up a quick time­lapse. The 33 sec­onds of video rep­re­sents about 33 min­utes of pho­tos, each one a 5‑second exposure.

When the show was wind­ing down, I turned around and saw that the Milky Way was high above the farm. One more pho­to, I thought, then I’ll go inside.

The Milky Way above the farm


1 It rather out­grew the avail­able space in Dunrea.

Friday night in the park

Star Trails at Spruces

My friend Tim was camp­ing at Wasagam­ing, as is his wont on the Sep­tem­ber long week­end. I went to vis­it on Fri­day evening.

We head­ed up to Spruces to check out the sunset…

…and the moon.

Lat­er, the galaxy appeared as the moon set.

And I decid­ed to try to catch Jupiter with my 55250mm lens, which is usu­al­ly too shaky at 250mm. It seems to have worked. (If I’m read­ing this right, the moons are, L‑R, Cal­lis­to, Europa, and Io.)

Jupiter, with moons Callisto, Europa, and Io visible

After I dropped Tim off at his camp­site, I saw that the auro­ra were mak­ing an appear­ance. I stopped in a few places (the beach in Wasagam­ing[1]Man, I real­ly don’t like the orange lights at the beach, the dock on the golf course road, and on the road­side on #10 highway).


1 Man, I real­ly don’t like the orange lights at the beach

Aurora, Aug. 1920, 2022

Aurora Borealis, Aug. 20, 2022

Last night, the auro­ra data looked good, and also the sky was clear (unlike oth­er nights late­ly). I packed my cam­era and tri­pod, then head­ed out to one of my favourite spots (Twin Pines Field, let’s call it) about 10:45pm.

The tem­per­a­ture dropped while I was out, going from about 24°C to 17°C. Every­thing got coat­ed with a slick of dew, including—as you can see in the last photo—my lens[1]Actu­al­ly, it was the trans­par­ent UV fil­ter over the lens, which was much eas­i­er to wipe clean. Phew..

All told, I shot almost a thou­sand images, each one a 5‑second expo­sure[2]Nerds: 11mm, 5s, f/2.8, ISO 3200., which con­ve­nient­ly means that mak­ing a time­lapse at 12 frames a sec­ond cre­ates a video where 1 sec­ond of video = 1 minute of real time. So my hour and twen­ty min­utes at Twin Pines Field con­dens­es into a minute and twen­ty sec­onds for your edutainment.



1 Actu­al­ly, it was the trans­par­ent UV fil­ter over the lens, which was much eas­i­er to wipe clean. Phew.
2 Nerds: 11mm, 5s, f/2.8, ISO 3200.

On a cloudy night

Lighthing on the horizon

The auro­ra fore­cast was great, but the earth­ly fore­cast was clouds, clouds, clouds. I ven­tured out any­way, hop­ing against hope for a small break in the clouds.

On the back road I chose, there were clouds all around, and lightning—lots of it—to the south and east. I did­n’t hear any thun­der, but there were moments where the clouds lit up from with­in. I man­aged to get one bright bolt in focus.

Look­ing up, I saw that there was indeed a break in the clouds, just large enough for Jupiter to shine through. If you view the pho­to full-size, you’ll see two moons as well: Cal­lis­to on the left and Ganymede on the right (if I’m using this tool correctly).

Jupiter, with Callisto and Ganymede visible

Then, before head­ing home, I decid­ed to take a cou­ple shots of the north­ern sky. There was a hint of green to it. This is the best pho­to I man­aged of the auro­ra try­ing to peek through the clouds.

Clouds with a bit of auroral green

And then I went home.

Clouded Aurora

After I watched the new Top Gun talkie, I checked the data in my auro­ra app while I was still in the park­ing lot. It looked good[1]The Bz read­ing was ‑11, where the fur­ther into the neg­a­tive, the bet­ter; I usu­al­ly see a decent show if it’s at ‑4 or so., so I hur­ried home, grabbed my gear, and went out of town.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly it was cloudy to the north. I set up any­way, hop­ing the clouds would move off, and start­ed snap­ping photos.

Long sto­ry short: the clouds did­n’t move off. I gave it about 45 min­utes, and then packed up and went home.

Here’s a time­lapse of about 20 min­utes’ worth of my attempts. Each frame is a 10-sec­ond exposure. 

And here’s a hand­ful of my favourites from the pho­tos I got. (I think I caught a mete­or in the first one, on the far left.)


1 The Bz read­ing was ‑11, where the fur­ther into the neg­a­tive, the bet­ter; I usu­al­ly see a decent show if it’s at ‑4 or so.

Aurora at the end of March

Aurora, March 30th, 2022

The auro­ra data looked good and the sky was clear, so I packed up my camera—grabbing, at the last minute, my 50mm lens, think­ing I’d maybe get some shots of Ori­on with it—and head­ed out to find a dark spot.

10 min­utes north­west of town, I stopped on the side of a grav­el road and got set up. There was a faint haze to the north which, to the cam­era, was green (my eye saw it as grey). The data showed that there should be a bit more activ­i­ty in about a half hour, so I start­ed snap­ping pho­tos. Ini­tial­ly I was tak­ing pho­tos at 10 sec­ond expo­sures. As the night wore on I dropped that to 5 sec­onds, then 2.5 and final­ly 2. (I took a few frames at 1 sec­ond with my f/1.8 lens, but they were a lit­tle dark­er than I like.)

Here’s the results.

It was even vis­i­ble in town, if you knew what you were look­ing at. This pho­to was tak­en on my street, just before I went back in the house.

Aurora, March 30th, 2022
It was even vis­i­ble in town.
A short timelapse
Panorama of aurora

Added: I took a few pho­tos for a panora­ma to show how wide the show was. This stretch­es from the west to the east; the road vis­i­ble on the far left and the far right is, in fact, the same road.

Some faint aurora

It’s been a while since I went out chas­ing auro­ra. Tonight the clouds stayed away, and the tem­per­a­ture, while chilly, did­n’t feel like it was going to kill me. I got a cou­ple shots of the auro­ra, faint and hug­ging the north­ern horizon…

…and also an hour or so’s worth of star trails, includ­ing what looks like an irid­i­um flare. (It looks like my cam­era moved at some point ear­ly in the hour. I did­n’t jos­tle it; maybe the wind shift­ed it slightly.)

Star Trails

Aurora — Oct. 11th2021

Panorama of aurora (179°)

It was quite a show last night. The auro­ra cov­ered the north­ern sky, east to west, and reached up over­head. For about 15 min­utes around 11:15pm, it looked like the videos you see that are shot up in the north: bright, sharp, and frenetic.

The image at the top is a panora­ma, 6 pho­tos, stretch­ing just about 180° from west to east.

Some of the pho­tos in the gallery below were tak­en lit­er­al­ly 25 sec­onds apart.

It was the best show I’ve seen in decades, and here’s to more active shows in the months and years to come. 

Nerdy details: all images were 11mm, f/2.8. Expo­sure times var­ied between 1 and 5 sec­onds. ISO was either 1600 or 3200.