During my trip home to Minnesota I have taken what I have learned about aurora watching in Alaska, and transferred it to conditions in the midwest. In doing so, I traded watching the aurora over snow drifts to squinting my eyes over bean fields with moderate success! A big push of energy from the sun has elevated geomagnetic energy to KP 6 or a G2-“Geomagnetic storm level 2”, which boosts the aurora to Minnesota, and even beyond. The two nights I chased the aurora brought success in both capturing the aurora in central Minnesota, and for playing with some new techniques which I will be honing in the upcoming year and are featured below. I would love to hear your feedback!
This timelapse below is fairly short and does not have a brilliant aurora, but does give a great idea of where to look for the aurora in Central Minnesota. During this G2 storm. In Alaska the aurora during a G2 storm would be far overhead and taking up the whole sky. In Minnesota it rose slightly above the horizon. Viewing would have been better if the smoke haze and moonlight could have been removed.
One of the techniques I am very interested in growing is the ability to capture full panoramas of the milky way. The progression of images below shows a little bit on how that works. I learned a lot in this first attempt. A few key findings : 1) find the darkest skies possible! The light pollution shows here. 2) need to have more overlap in the shots 3 ) I tried to capture the whole galaxy in one sweep of the camera. I now know I can stitch multiple rows of shots to capture a larger area 4) keep the ISO of the camera low-ish to reduce noise. For those reading this with experience in capturing the Milky Way, please contact me, it would be great to pick your brain!
I have done a lot to curate my aurora gallery on Fine Art America. I would love if you checked it out!
Click here to View my professional aurora borealis gallery on Fine Art America
3 thoughts on “Chasing the Minnesota Aurora”
Thank you for your insights and stunning pictures, Ian. I’m beginning to think I have seen many auroras that I didn’t even recognize as such. I find this regrettable, so I appreciate learning more.
Yes, I agree completely! After knowing what I do of the aurora now, I’m almost certain there have been times I’ve ‘seen’ it in the past without knowing. The faintness of a a central MN aurora really showcases the need for dark skies. ANY point and shoot camera with some manual settings can take images of the aurora. Even if the images are ‘great’, the camera can still act as an aurora detector for you by pointing it north 🙂
Thanks, Ian, that’s good to know. I have a little Canon point and shoot that I might try if I get a dark enough sky. There should be fewer lights as fall approaches.