Experiencing the Aurora Borealis in Denali National Park

This last week has been really amazing in regards to the weather in Fairbanks, Alaska. While my Minnesota family and friends hunted whitetails in 20 degree weather, we enjoyed temperatures nearing 30 degrees all week. To boot, it was sunny, you betcha! The Geophysical Institute forecasted high aurora activity starting on Friday night the 14th and extending all the way through Monday! With the warm weather, and aurora forecast it was just a matter of deciding where to go!

Panav, Logan and I arrived at the gates of Denali National Park at 9:30 PM. The winter regulations only allowed us to drive in 3 miles, and from there we packed our gear another 1.5. We located a place where the black spruces were shorter, and the mountains stood tall around us. The heart of Denali Park was absolutely dark, and as far as I know we were the only ones in the park that night! Meteors from the Leonid meteor shower flashed overhead leaving their long trails and thrilling the watchers on earth. This shower peaks on 11/17/2014 – so be sure to check it out if you have some clear skies tonight! Over the mountains, the aurora was already building as our three shutters started popping, and we did not have to wait long for the lights to explode around us. Energy of the northern lights always seems to originate from on horizon, and on this night the jagged horizon in front of us swelled with an intense green light that erupted overhead throwing pinks and greens in racing lines overhead.

The building aurora over Denali had a real treat in store for us! It was almost a year ago that I posted about my first “incredible” (I use quotations because they’re all pretty amazing) aurora, and I tried to explain the corona of the aurora. Officially, it is defined as “a circle of light made by the apparent convergence of the streamers of the aurora borealis” (MW Dictionary). My analogy was to think of single beam of the corona as a pencil, which you balance on your nose and then concentrate on the eraser; the corona is made of hundreds of green, red, and pink ‘pencils’! It is fast moving and pulses with energy. I am happy to say that I’ve captured a corona on timelapse for the first time!

Before leaving you with the the timelapse and images from the night I would like you to know I now have a page on Facebook, come check it out and follow along : www.facebook.com/ianlww. Thanks all!

The Milky Way and Aurora Borealis collided in Denali National Park! What an incredible thing to see!
The Milky Way and Aurora Borealis collided in Denali National Park! What an incredible thing to see!
A huge flare of northern lights dance across the sky in Denali National Park
A huge flare of northern lights dance across the sky in Denali National Park
A small ribbon of pink pulses behind the black spruces and over the mountains
A small ribbon of pink pulses behind the black spruces and over the mountains
An image of the corona 'pencils' flashing overhead!
An image of the corona ‘pencils’ flashing overhead!
The corona often has a focal point where the beams of light originate from. You can see that focal point here.
The corona often has a focal point where the beams of light originate from. You can see that focal point here.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Experiencing the Aurora Borealis in Denali National Park”

  1. There is a higher power to create something so amazing, so “incredible”, so unbelievable, mesmerizing, calming and energizing at the same time. These images are the best, yet, Ian. Thank you:)

  2. The image of the aurora awash over the Milky Way with mountain peaks and trees below is one of the most most uniquely and aesthetically magnificent that there could be. Although I am very amateurish in these matters, this is how It seems to me.

  3. As always the pictures are unbelievable. The auroras are unbelievable and the number of stars are incredible. Sure are a lot more than are visible here. Keep them coming. Love Grammy

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