Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights


Aurora Borealis

Nikon Coolpix 4500, 12sec, ISO400, Wide angle converter, NR off

I also made an animation of this Aurora Display: 20031029_aurora_north.mpg. The images for this movie were made without noise reduction, the glow on the upper right border is a camera artifact…


Nikon Coolpix 4500, 60sec, ISO400, Fish Eye converter, NR on

This image was featured in the Gallery section of the March 2004 issue of Sky & Telescope
A movie of a sequence of fish-eye images is also available: 20031029_aurora_full.mpg.
A larger, better quality version (Avi, DIvX) is also available: 20031029_aurora_divx.avi (622kB)


After being alerted to a major solar eruption from various newsletters and mailing lists, I was quite disappointed with the weather prospects for the following night!

Even though cloud cover was 100%, and it was still raining, I decided to take my digital camera, the serial cable, the laptop computer and a small tripod with me, when I headed off to an evening meeting.

When leaving the building at 10 p.m. the rain had stopped, but it was still clouded over. Inspite of the conditions I drove to my favorite observing location (Oberbildstein), searched for a place with a good northern horizon and waited…

After a little while some stars were visible in the Zenith. I constantly watched the northern horizon but couldn´t make out any glow. So I started some all-sky images with the Nikon fisheye adaptor.

On the 3rd image I noticed a red glow in the northern direction!!

Some minutes later the aurora was plainly visible to the naked eye and I was thrilled to see white and red curtains of light, slowly changing in form and brightness. Sometimes rays of light were visible. During this time I took some images with the camera controlled by the computer.

It didn´t last long… When I could not see the aurora anymore, I decided to do some more full-sky images. I was astonished to see the aurora still visible on this 40sec. exposures…

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