Another Northern Lights display

Northern Lights, South Dakota

Northern Lights on the early morning of November 7th, 2015 in southeastern South Dakota.

What would I do without my cell phone?  How did people survive without them?  OK…I DO have a nice iPhone.  I would bet I use it less than 99% of all other human beings with a cell phone.  But there are times it comes in handy.  At about 10:00 last night I was about to go to bed, when the phone beeped with a notice. I have an app called “Solar Monitor” that you can use to track solar weather, and it said that a “moderate storm” was in progress.

Since it was a Friday night and I could sleep in this morning, I grabbed my camera and went out to try to take some shots.  I would say that the Northern Lights this time were much better than they were several weeks ago when I was able to see and photograph them for the first time ever.  Last time, it was a glow on the horizon, without much appearance of movement or any distinct features.  Last night, there was a short stretch where you could see them with the naked eye quite well, and could see the changing patterns of the “curtain” of light.

I’m still not the greatest at photographing them however!  Part of it is my equipment.  I just never shoot landscapes and the like so don’t really have a great wide-angle lens.  But who am I kidding, it’s not just equipment.  I have no idea what I’m doing trying to shoot them!  After a lot of experimentation last night I came up with something that at least produced a decent looking image.

A nice unexpected night of photography!!

South Dakota Aurora

South Dakota Aurora

Aurora on the night of September 22nd. Not much for “moving curtains” of light, but a beautiful array of glowing colors on the horizon.

Yeah, yeah, yeah…it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve blogged.  What can I say, feeling sorry for myself again with the Sjogren’s, haven’t felt very good and haven’t felt much like going out and shooting photos.  But I have had a few good photo ops in the last 3 weeks.

This one is pure serendipity.  A week ago Sunday, I got up extremely early, at 4:00 AM, with the intention of going west to the Pierre area and doing some fishing and birding.  Serendipity, because when I got up at 4:00, I checked my phone when eating breakfast, and saw that my “Solar Monitor” app was indicating a strong global solar storm of Kp 7.  The app doesn’t say specifically whether you’ll be able to see an aurora in your location, but I know that you generally need a Kp of 6 or higher to have much of a chance to see it this far south.

That’s the theory!  But in the 22+ years we’ve been in South Dakota, I’ve never seen an aurora.  Luck was on my side on this morning though.  Before beginning the 3+ hour drive to where I was going to fish and bird, I went to a dark spot outside of town, and lo-and-behold, an aurora was clearly visible.  It wasn’t the earth-shattering, magical moving curtains of light you see in the videos, it was more a glow of subtle colors on the far northern horizon.  Beautiful to watch though on a beautiful clear night!

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