There was a storm and then there were lights.

Last Thursday and again on Friday, September 11th and 12th, the sun sent a blast of energy our way in the form of a coronal mass ejection, or CME. While these strong magnetic storms can cause problems for electrical grids, GPS, and radios, what interested me, and just about every other photographer I know, was the light show.

You see these potentially damaging solar storms are also what gives us the Aurora Borealis. otherwise known as the Northern Lights. While much of my photography takes place during daylight hours, the reported potential intensity of the Aurora, and the fact we don’t usually see the Aurora this far south, had me grabbing my camera and heading for the mountains.

I’m glad I did.Spending The Night Under Aurora Skies

48 thoughts on “New Hampshire Night And The Northern Lights.

    1. Oh man, I’ll bet! My understanding is that being further north you can actually see the colors too. For us there were a few subtle hints of color occasionally, but for the most part it in black and white.

      Darn you human eyes for not seeing color in the dark! 🙂

      1. I guess it’s just because the colors are different than what I’m used to seeing when I’ve seen the Northern Lights. The ones that I’ve been lucky enough to experience, has had a more blue/greenish color.

        1. I’m guessing that’s it. It was a bit surprised by the magenta color since most of the aurora photos I’ve ever seen have shown it as green as well. Maybe we’re just “special” here in New England 🙂

    1. Yes and no. The aurora was quite a sight, but to our eyes it was mostly colorless. The camera saw the colors you see here, but to those of us there that night it was pretty much black and white since the human eye doesn’t see color in the dark.

    1. It was breath-taking! Even seeing it, as I mention in replies to other people, pretty much in black and white, seeing the pillars of light rising into the night sky was pretty awesome.

    1. That is a bummer, but there’s always next time. For my first Aurora attempt another photographer friend and I sat out in the middle of a frozen lake until about 3 a.m., and saw nothing.

    1. It’s been a pretty good year or so, with the Aurora being visible much further south than normal. My understanding is that the sun is at the peak of an approximately 11 year cycle as far as sun spot/solar storms goes.

      1. Interesting… next time I am home in Canada I will have to look at the sky more. Here in Shanghai too much light pollution to see stars etc. Although the lights and patterns on the buildings are also beautiful.

  1. That is one amazing photo! I remember seeing the Northern Lights once at Girl Scout camp in Wisconsin. They certainly did not look like this. They were more black & white and perhaps a bit greenish to my naked eye, as I remember. So why does the camera ‘see’ pink and yellow? Do you know? And why in horizontal blocks rather than following the vertical light places? If you are adding some of that in post-production, that is fine. I’m not judging, I’m just trying to learn more about the Aurora.

    1. It’s our darn eyes. The color is there, the human eye just can’t see it in the dark. I did boost the saturation a little, but the colors as you see them are not too far off from what the camera saw. Like you, what we saw was pretty much in black and white, with a faint green visible every once in a while.

      Even though I kind of knew that I wouldn’t see the color, at least this far south, this having been my first time both seeing it and photographing it, I was surprised the first time I took a test exposure. Needles to say I was pretty excited by what I saw.

      I do believe that if you’re far enough north, the Aurora is so bright that you can in fact see the color with the naked eye, but I wonder if the camera still wouldn’t see it as being brighter and more saturated.

  2. Stunning as usual. I love looking at your photographs and am glad you made it out there to capture this one. I grew up in Alaska and the Northern Lights is one of the things I miss the most now that I’ve moved away.

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