Aurora Borealis : Science!

Ahoy Readers!

Well, last night was a stunner here in Alaska. I went out for the Aurora, and was yet again bowled over by just how wonderful it is/was! First things first, I need to toot my horn a bit here. Aurora Tech (http://goo.gl/9x4yk1) insulating technology worked like a charm. Coupled with a Zippo handwarmer and another hand-heater my camera operated for over 2.5 hours at -20 degrees Farenheight on one battery! That’s a tremendous improvement! I was able to shoot 2 different angles for over an hour each, results in a pretty great timelapse and some great photography. That’s at the bottom!

Aurora tech in action! My lunch bag insulator worked perfectly last night. After 2.5 hours my camera was still snapping shots with no stop on one batter! I added a Zippo heater pack and one other hand warmer to the box to help my camera out.
Aurora tech in action! My lunch bag insulator worked perfectly last night. After 2.5 hours my camera was still snapping shots with no stop on one batter! I added a Zippo heater pack and one other hand warmer to the box to help my camera out.

I thought I would do some research for myself on the Aurora and the science behind it. All information that I disseminate here can be found on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_(astronomy)) – sorry for you non-wiki-trusters. But for this instance I think it will be OK 🙂

THE BIG QUESTIONS

What causes the Aurora?

Auroras are a emissions from photons (light) which are in the Earth’s Atmosphere above 80 km (50 mile). They are excited when they collide with solar wind and the magnetospheric particles which are ‘funneled’ and sped up by the Earth’s magnetic lines.

Aurora terms:

Aurorae are classified as diffuse and discrete.

  • “The diffuse aurora is a featureless glow in the sky that may not be visible to the naked eye, even on a dark night. It defines the extent of the auroral zone.”
  • “The discrete aurorae are sharply defined features within the diffuse aurora that vary in brightness from just barely visible to the naked eye, to bright enough to read a newspaper by at night. Discrete aurorae are usually seen in only the night sky, because they are not as bright as the sunlit sky.”

Where do the colors come from?

  • RED : At high latitudes Reds come from excited oxygen.
  • GREEN : at lower altitudes reds are suppressed and green shines out. Green can be generated by the collision of oxygen and nitrogen.
  • YELLOW and PINK : Just mixes of red and green!
  • BLUE : At the lowest altitudes there is no more atomic oxygen and there is lots of nitrogen. It radiates at blue and red – which can give you purple!

What does the Aurora sound like?

Apparently there are records of people ‘hearing’ the aurora! Scientists actually were able to record a sound, which they describe as ‘clapping’ from the aurora. I’m not sure I agree with their analogy of the sound, but have a listen!

Source: http://www.space.com/16498-northern-lights-clapping-sound-explained.html

What colors are the most common?

Apparent ranking of colors is this :

Green –> Pink –> Pure Red –> Yellow –> Blue

I have never seen blue!!

Images from last night:

Northern Lights over Tanana River, Fairbanks, AK 02/07 - 02/08/14
Northern Lights over Tanana River, Fairbanks, AK 02/07 – 02/08/14
Northern Lights over Tanana River, Fairbanks, AK 02/07 - 02/08/14
Northern Lights over Tanana River, Fairbanks, AK 02/07 – 02/08/14
Northern Lights over Tanana River, Fairbanks, AK 02/07 - 02/08/14
Northern Lights over Tanana River, Fairbanks, AK 02/07 – 02/08/14
Northern Lights over Tanana River, Fairbanks, AK 02/07 - 02/08/14
Northern Lights over Tanana River, Fairbanks, AK 02/07 – 02/08/14

Slower, or faster?

I have a question for you, the readers. I have created 2 timelapse videos below of the same aurora from last night. One is played slower than the other. Which do you prefer? I would love to know for future timelapse video making!

 

11 thoughts on “Aurora Borealis : Science!”

  1. I like the slower one a lot better, in fact i would slow it down even more so you don’t miss the shootin stars. Personally, slower is better! Mother can be so beautiful though!

    1. It does look frenetic, but it also was frenetic last night! It was really moving fast. As fast as I have seen. But I do agree, I like the slower better. It’s a bit closer to ‘real time’

  2. I concur with the others and prefer the slower version. Love your version of the “Major Tom” song…To think I remember when David Bowie did the original recording………….:( Keep up the amazing photography and accompaniment, Ian!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.