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05/15/2005 Archived Entry: "a spectacular aurora"

I had to walk the dog at 2 am, and was rewarded with a rare treat: the most spectacular aurora borealis I've seen in over a decade.

At its greatest extent it was well past our zenith -- perhaps by 10 or 20 degrees -- so it should have been visible even in the southern U.S. It was bright enough to see by, with no moon showing. Some flashes were bright enough to show color.

Fortunately, just a few weeks ago I finally bought a tripod for my camera. I don't know how well the 4-second to 8-second exposures (with 800 speed film) will turn out, but there's no way they can capture the majesty of having half the sky illuminated in streaks of light, or the ghostly flashes and pulses that were visible at the zenith. They were still going strong when I retired at 3 am.


(Image from http://www.sec.noaa.gov/pmap/)

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