Aurora Borealis Panoramas

Last night’s unexpected G1 (minor storm) came with high solar winds and a LOT of early promise. The data was looking good as I polished my lens and charged my batteries. By 9:30 the Aurora had flared up into great form with evidence of the high solar winds showing. The speed of the aurora was astounding – it rippled and flowed in one direction like a river of green light in the sky. However, in truly unpredictable fashion, the fat lady sang at 10:15 PM and it was over. That’s an early considering peak, average activity is at midnight.

I’m continuing to push the envelop of what I’m capable of for shooting the aurora.I took the opportunity last night to experiment with my first aurora panoramas. Often times a single image cannot capture the scope of the aurora, so the advantage is capturing the whole arc of the aurora in the sky. These images were stitched in Photoshop 6 and are comprised of 4 – 5 images each. I am happy with a first attempt!

Aurora borealis panorama 2. These images of the aurora were taken after the aurora activity picked up. I wanted to test how well the panorama would stitch with the higher activity - pretty good! The 'break' you see in the aurora is exactly how it looked. 2 bands in the sky.
Aurora borealis panorama 2. These images of the aurora were taken after the aurora activity picked up. I wanted to test how well the panorama would stitch with the higher activity – pretty good! The ‘break’ you see in the aurora is exactly how it looked. 2 bands in the sky.
Aurora borealis panorama early in the night. Stitched in photoshop, these are 4 second images which capture the whole arc of the aurora.
Aurora borealis panorama early in the night. Stitched in Photoshop 6, these are 4 second images which capture the whole arc of the aurora.

Beyond the panoramas I experimented with timelapse last night too. Incredibly, the timelapse here has shots taken down to 0.5 second exposures and at only 1 second apart. It gives the aurora incredible flow! I am getting closer and closer to it really feeling real which is my auroral goal. The speed of the technique differs from the past (2-4 second exposures and 2 seconds buffer) because of some high speed SD cards I got for Christmas which removed the need for much buffering/write time. It’s great!

There’s PLENTY of snow on the north side of Spinach Creek and it can make moving around a bit of a hassle. The snow itself is pure powder and easy to navigate, it is the grabbing stems of vengeful, cut black spruces which muddy the waters! You are often in the trap before you know it, and several times I was successfully taken down during my saunter. For scale I plopped down on the hillside and snapped an image – a good 3 feet or so!

19 thoughts on “Aurora Borealis Panoramas”

  1. Can’t get enuf Aurora stuff
    or
    Give me morea Aurora
    or
    That’snow laughing matter
    or
    Set me loose in black spruce
    or
    Aurora sky pleases me eye
    or
    Three foot deep makes me trip and weep
    or
    (if you were a gal) Panoramamama
    or
    (since you are a guy) Auroraskyguy
    or
    Gotta be bold when it’s forty degree cold
    or
    Battery gets cold…getting very old
    or
    Green sky at night, Ian’s delight

  2. Ian, lovely, lovely, lovely…. Thanks for sharing and keep experimenting with your camera; it really pays off. One question came to mind that you as a scientist might be able to answer. What makes the aurora borealis green?
    Peter

      1. I hyperlinked and read the explanations. Interesting observation, the explain-blog was shot a year ago, and included Auroras du jour. The difference in photographic quality is astounding from then-to-now. -Combination of camera hardware and shooting skill software!

  3. Aurora breath…very funny:) From that standpoint, the green “breath” could be from all of the spinach and brussel sprouts you consume! Seriously, if I never get to see these displays with my own eyes, the timelapse certainly will fill that void. It is easy to see why you’ve been so captured by this amazing phenomena and continue to hone your skills to capture it on film.

  4. I like the way that the music enhances the activity of the aurora. It creates a mystical mood. Once again, thank you greatly for your presenting these unique images to us.

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