Monday, 26 December 2011

Aurora Borealis

Friday, April 13, 2001 didn't bring bad luck to me: it was the first time I witnessed the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. Well, actually it was the second time. The first time I observed it, on April 6, 2000, I had mistaken it for noctilucent clouds.....

On Aril 10, 2011, a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) occured.

Because of this CME, observers were advised to watch out for the Northern Lights. I decided to go to the Wassenaarse Slag - a car park on the coast of The Netherlands, just north of The Hague.

I met two other observers on the Wassenaarse Slag: Richard Francis and Hugeutte Sawaya who work at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk. They weren't aware of the fact that tonight it was possible to witness the Aurora. In fact they had brought a Meade 8-inch LX90 telescope with them for some casual observing of deepsky objects.

Around 21h30 UT, a strange cirrus cloud became visible above the sea. The cloud became larger and looked like a curtain: we were witnessing the Aurora Borealis! I had loaded my Olympus OM1 camera with Kodak RF1000 colour negative film. I managed to take two shots of 1 minute with a 50 mm lens (probably at f/4, I didn't recorded that).

I've scanned the film and with a few click in Photoshop CS5 I managed to merge to pictures to a panorama.

The clouds have an odd green colour. To the eye the Aurora was, indeed, green instead of the pink and blue colours seen in the pictures.

One of the things on my wish list is to visit the Lofoten islands of Norway to witness the full splendour of the Northern Lights and to capture it with modern photographic equipment.

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