Aurora time!

I stayed up late to try and see the northern lights. They were nice, but a bit dim here — they did stretch out further than I’ve seen previously, streaking practically all across the sky. I tried taking some photos (f/1.8, 15s exposures, with a tripod, of course), but I wasn’t entirely satisfied. Too blurry, mainly what I captured were fuzzy swirls of red and green.

I should practice more, but it’s late and way past my bedtime.


  1. Rich Woods says

    It looked like the skies were going to stay clear (a rare event in the UK) so I set my alarm for 3am. When it went off I swore at it, punched it, turned over and went back to sleep.

  2. Silentbob says

    That’s still super cool! Well done.

    I never had an opportunity to see aurorae.

  3. Silentbob says

    I checked and you’re only 45 degrees latitude! I didn’t know one could see aurorae so far from the poles. :-o

  4. StevoR says

    Glad you got to see and experience it & nice to see those anyhow. I missed it here – did go outside briefly last night but there was nothing visible auroare~wise then. Must’ve come later at least in other parts of Oz. Some photos and discussion here :

    Stargazers treated to light show in south-east Australia | ABC News (5 mins 30 secs)

    It notes there at the 3 mins 45 seconds mark onwards that conditions for seeing aurorae might be good tonight as well and could be worth watching from sunset onwards.

    Aussie ABC also has some jaw-droppping photos here :

    Whilst in other space news the new launch attempt date for the new Boeing Starliner which could’ve been at its earliest last night is now at earliest going to be the 17th May so I don’t have to worry about missing aurorae outside versus missing watching the new human spacecraft flight inside – see :

  5. StevoR says

    @3. Silentbob : “I didn’t know one could see aurorae so far from the poles.”

    Depends on how strong the solar events causing them are – back in the 1859 Carrington event aurorae were visible from the equator :

    Or nearly so anyway. Of course, these days with all our vulnerable high tech, we really don’t want something quite that big!

  6. Silentbob says

    @ Stevo

    Wow, thanks for sharing. I wish I could see one. Definite bucket list stuff. :-)

  7. lumipuna says

    (crossposting my comment from Affinity)

    Here in Helsinki, the sky was clear last night but it barely gets dark at this time of the year. I went out to the nearby park at about 11 PM, when the peak aurora occurrence was predicted. It was still only half dark, and the night was setting in very slowly, as it does in this magical time of year. I’ve seen auroras a couple times over the recent years, in winter, like smudgy pale green clouds dancing near the northern horizon, barely visible through the suburban light pollution. I expected to be peering towards north again.

    I forgot to consider that the sun would be in the northwest-north and not much below horizon. It still practically lit up the sky in that direction. It’s that lingering eerie glow of the northern sky near midnight that I normally love so much about northern summer. Now, I feared I had little chance of seeing any auroras. At least the moon was pretty, a very thin crescent new moon slowly brightening up in the western sky.

    The sky was much darker in the south and southeast, though not nearly fully dark. Soon after arriving in the park, I noticed something like a very faint reddish cloud high up in southern sky. Could it be? Yes, within minutes it expanded into an amazing red rosette of flames that seemed to radiate from near the zenith. Then it slowly faded away by 12 PM. All the time, it was only faintly visible because the sky wasn’t fully dark. I can scarcely imagine how it’d have looked in properly dark conditions (incl. little or no light pollution). Now, it was still quite impressive, and even moreso simply beautiful.

  8. lumipuna says

    As for the latitude, I understand that the aurora ring is generally further from the north pole in western hemisphere, and from the south pole in eastern hemisphere, because the magnetic dipole is tilted that way.

  9. says

    I’m at 60°N, so even without the cloud coverage the light makes it hard to see anything this time of year. I checked at 2330, and again at 0430 but nothing.
    So far I’ve concluded that the aurora alert is the best weather forecast ever. If there is an aurora, it will be cloudy.

  10. drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon says

    Wow! That was cool… I have never seen an Aurora before! Living about 10 miles SE down the river from St. Paul I wasn’t expecting much, city lights and all, and we didn’t get much color, but the movement was fantastic. All over the sky. You could see the focus change as the Earth moved over the hours.
    Almost felt like I was finally getting those acid flashbacks they promised me back in the Grateful Dead days. You just had to add your own colors.

    It took’em long enough.

    Makes up for getting my third total eclipe getting screwed by clouds (insert Abe Simpson meme here). Maybe someday I’ll get one. Hell, I’ve got two earthquakes and a volcano under my belt, so I’m calling this a win for me.

  11. drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon says

    Holy shit! as soon as I hit submit I saw that last sentence, and, well, I wish there was an edit button.
    Wasn’t intending the double entendre.
    I might have to take that joke on the road, tho…

  12. says

    It turns out that cell phone camera sensors are particularly sensitive to the light from auroras. I’ve seen a lot of spectacular photos from them, so you might try that.

    The aurora was visible even as far south as Columbus, OH, latitude 40°.

  13. says

    Nighttime photos are tricky. It looks to me that your focus was soft. Were you trying to use autofocus? Set the camera (not the lens) to manual focus then set it on infinity.
    I found that 15s was way too long. I was shooting with a 16mm @f8 with 2s exposures.

  14. StevoR says

    Tried to spot aurorae again here tonight. Nope. Too much skyglow and light pollution and too cloudy. (Expletives.)

  15. robro says

    My partner was driving from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge last night around 8:00, and reported that she “did notice the spectacular and rather strange light as i came over the bridge coming home.” She just told me she first saw it as she was driving through the General MacArthur Tunnel in the Presidio.

    A neighbor on NextDoor posted some pictures he took at place called Big Rock on Lucas Valley Road a bit further north of us.

    My dad drove city buses in Jacksonville, Florida, so he was at work by 4:00am most his work life. He said he saw the aurora early one morning as he started his day.

  16. Pierce R. Butler says

    Silentbob @ # 3: … only 45 degrees latitude! I didn’t know one could see aurorae so far from the poles.

    Back in the early ’80s, I saw at least an hour’s worth of aurora from south of Natchez, Mississippi (approx 31°N). We had no idea what it was at the time; I speculated a barge of chemicals on the river had caught fire and people on the ground were for some reason playing spotlights on the purple fumes.

  17. robro says

    Since we’re checking our latitudes: my partner was at 37° 48′ when she first saw it last night. My dad was somewhere in the 30° range.

  18. StevoR says

    Adelaide, South Oz, is 35 degrees south FWIW. Same as Sydney so I gather. People have been seeing the aurorae here. Not me yet tho’.

  19. Dennis K says

    Very active, pronounced showing here in NW Oregon. Watched for about an hour starting around 10:45 PM. Easily discerned colors especially violet, red, and green. I’ve seen aurora before but never like this. Latitude 44° N.

  20. birgerjohansson says

    I wish you luck catching further views of the aurora. Up here, the nights during summer season are already much too bright – I can only spot very bright objects, like Jupiter.

  21. prairieslug says

    Yesterday evening between 9pm and 10pm the aurora was the brightest i have ever seen in my life! Unfortunately the brightest period only lasted for about 20 minutes and then was much dimmer the rest of the night.

  22. magistramarla says

    I’m seeing some spectacular photos posted by our local photographers on NextDoor here on the Monterey Bay peninsula.
    My husband couldn’t see a thing from our patio last night. Many of those pictures were from Asilomar Beach, so he intends to go there tonight.
    My daughter and her husband drove from Denver to Wyoming and camped out last night.They posted some outstanding photos on our family thread.

  23. Atticus Dogsbody says

    I woke at about 2am on Saturday morning, in beautiful Bendigo, to a red glow coming through my window. I immediately leaped out of bed as I thought my neighbour’s house was on fire. Looking out my window I realised that it was the southern sky that was on fire. I have never an Aurora as intense as that. It was amazing.

  24. AstroLad says

    There was some visible from the Orange County Astronomers dark sky site in Southern California. Not sure what it looked like visually. I saw a short time lapse from an all-sky camera used to monitor seeing conditions. Most of it was to the north, but there was a short flash directly over head.

  25. StevoR says

    Been outside just now and think I’ve seen it at least through my phone.. Dim but hints of something flickerig and faint colour although not sure if I’m imagining it.

    FWIW now :

    According to the BOM, the geomagnetic storms that have caused the aurora australis over the weekend are forecast to continue. University of Tasmania physics professor Andrew Cole says while the peak has passed, another light show may be visible tonight. “Because things are happening right now during daylight I would start looking as soon as it gets dark after sunset, and just find an area that’s free from obstructions on the southern horizon, generally free from city lights,” he said. ANU astrophysicist Brad Tucker says the Southern Lights may be visible thought until the early hours of Monday. “The aurora have been quite extreme. Often, given that the Sun has been quite active lately, you can see it decently in Tasmania,” he said.”But here, large parts of Australia — in some places it’s predicted to reach as far north as Queensland, which is fairly rare.”

    Source :

    I’ve seen some stunning photos online including from my local area from last night but whether it looked as it appeared in the pictures with unaided eyes, dunno.

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