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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 18 2012 Minnesota Auroras and Awesome Sunset Earlier!

WOW...what this aurora a surprise show. Right before dinner, I noticed a huge spike in the proton density and a split tip of the magnetic field to the south. Didn't think much of it as the other indicies really didn't have the tell tale signs of an incoming CME or a big solar wind gust. After dinner I worked on a few shots I had taken earlier of the sunset after a less than productive 3 mile hike looking for a great horned owl:



Saw 5 hawks on the way out to the owl spot. Figures.



But as I said, once the sun went down, the show started with a really nice sunset.







As I was driving home, I had this sense of relief that I had salvaged something image-wise since the owl quest was a total bust. I heard a barred owl off in the distance but only saw one measly red squirrel as it was getting dark in the heavy forest.

Fast forward a couple of hours. After working on the images above, I checked the space weather conditions again and the proton density had dropped again but the magnetic field tipped south even more. I figures I would go out in the back yard and take a test shot just to see if there was a weak aurora or not.



They were there. Very faint, but there. I wasn't all that interested in going out as I still didn't think it was going to amount to anything but after talking with Melinda, we figured it was a good excuse to get out of the house for a little bit.



4 shot pano. Notice how blurry it is? It's not out of focus. What I did was set up my tripod on really smooth ice and never extended the tips through the feet on the legs and didn't use a release cable or the timer on my cam. Just the subtle touch of the shutter button caused the rig to move ever so slightly resulting in this. Darn it! Melinda was a little freaked out by the noise the ice was making and the lights from the access were throwing more ambient light than I wanted to deal with so we decided to relocate to a hill nearby in a wildlife preserve nearby.



Still nothing great, but Melinda and I were just enjoying the green glow slowly drifting to the west/northwest. It's times like this I am really glad she is here to share stuff like this with me.



The intensity picked up a little with several bands snaking their way slowly from right to left. The high thin band of cirrus added kind of a cool effect catching the lights of the Twin Cities some 50 odd miles off to the southeast of us.



Periodically there were some attempts at getting a few spikes reaching upwards but they were pretty weak...but still fun!







After about an hour the show started to die off so we headed for home. Once last shot looking up over the hill to the northeast. Evidently as the auroral oval started moving back north, the last hurrah did produce some nice red auroras. Congrats to those who stuck it out just a little longer.



More hindsight. I was so busy switching exposure settings I was only able to manage 11 frames which could be salvaged for a timelapse. Looped 3 times. I should have used the settings I always do and let the intervolmeter do it's thing.

Check out the video my chaser pal, Jacob Thumberberger, made by doing in the right way. Nice job Mr. T.

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