Aurora Borealis – January 14, 2023

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Aurora Borealis – January 14, 2023
One of the 250 photos I took of the aurora borealis on the night of January 14, 2023

On the evening of January 14, 2023, between 9:30 and 10:15 pm Alaska time, the aurora borealis put on one of the most magnificent shows I have ever seen! From what I saw of the online Geophysical Institute all-sky camera, it looks like it snapped back just before 1 am, but I was asleep by then.

Around 9 pm, I took the dog outside and saw that the clouds from earlier had cleared and that there was a little bit of dull aurora dancing and a light band to the northeast. But it was also brightening, all while the dog took his sweet time sniffing in the snow. As soon as he finished, I got a camera on a tripod outside and took a few photos, but the northern lights seemed to be fading.

Fading aurora at 9 pm

I went back into the house because I had a lot of robot parts to collect in the Forbidden West on the Playstation, so I sat down with my controller and pulled up the GI Allsky camera on my phone. Within a few minutes, the sky was changing fast. Aloy was going to have to wait to upgrade her weapons.

The sky began to light up at 9:10 pm
Seven minutes later, from the exact location – structure starts to appear in the blobs
A stable band appears in the north, just above our treetops (9:23 pm)

This band lasted about 8 minutes while not much else happened in the rest of the sky. Many rays were shimmering in the band, like a picket fence.

At 9:30 pm, waves started moving through the band from east to west. To capture these rapidly changing structures, I pushed the camera’s ISO high to 6400 and shot 0.8-second exposures.

A little more pink appears as waves move through the band

At 9:45 pm, the energetic band started moving across the sky to the south, passing directly overhead for a few minutes as it became brighter, sometimes oversaturating the camera sensor.

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Lost highlights in the bright aurora
A little corona blasts overhead (9:45 pm)
Crimson appears on the bottom edge of the band (9:46 pm)
More corona “raining” down on us
Lighting up the entire sky overhead (9:49 pm)
Grande finale at 9:50 as the lights slowly crept back north and began to fade
Little wisps of aurora remained in the southern sky (9:52 pm)

I don’t often do this, but I uploaded almost all the photos that I took over this sequence because when seen together, it’s possible to see how the structures evolve over time. If I had known that it would be such a good display, I would have run a timelapse. Oh, well. However, I did produce a short photo sequence that does somewhat show that structure evolution over the course of this hour.

There is a possibility for more decent aurora tonight, although unlikely to be as good as this. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for Fairbanks is mostly cloudy again. If the sky stays clear enough, I may set a camera to run a timelapse.

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