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Auroral Variation at Cleary Summit, AK

The Aurora Borealis from Cleary Summit, AK The Aurora Borealis from Cleary Summit, AK ©2017 Frederick Steiling
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Target Information
Main Target Designations Aurora Borealis
Companion Objects Cygnus, Lyra, M39
RA Center 19h 51m 45.637s
DEC Center +39° 5' 1.15"
One-shot Color 1 x 3.2'
F-number f/1.8
Sensitivity ISO1600
Focal Length 17mm (m4/3 crop)
Date(s) of acquisition 01Dec2017
Location Cleary Summit, AK
Imager Olympus E-P5
Telescope/Lens M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8
Mount Stationary Tripod
Shutter RFN-4 (RF-902) Wireless Release
Processing Photoshop, PixInsight 1.8

It's taken a while to analyze some photos taken earlier in the year, and with the recent passing of the total solar eclipse, it seemed appropriate to post an equally-as-fascinating phenomenon in the Aurora Borealis.

As detailed in my earlier post from Healy, AK, I was fortunate to take a trip to Fairbanks, AK over the 2017 New Year holiday.  Healy had posed our first viewing, but the real auroral fireworks were saved until New Year's Night, where we experienced an absolutely magnificent view for hours at Cleary Summit, about 20 miles north of Fairbanks.

On our arrival, the aurora was directly overhead and accompanied with awe and cheering.  It was no time for photographs; sometimes we just need to put down the "work" and experience the power of nature!  However, once the overhead show moved further north, the camera and tripod came out and I captured a magnificent variety of auroral looks.

This is one of my favorites I took on the trip.  The snake-like look is the first thing that usually pops to mind when thinking of the Aurora Borealis, an appearance that shines proudly in green and purple throughout the center and right-side of the frame.  However, something that I've started calling the "Auroral Haze" covers the left-side of the frame.  This eerie wash of magnetic cloudiness was mildly perceptible visually, and really popped out on the camera sensor at certain moments.  The thin appearance still permits stars to shine as a backdrop, and as you can faintly note in the annotated image, the open cluster M39 is evident as well.  It makes for a nice capture of the several forms the aurora took during our trip, and is a composition worthy of triggering the awe-inspiring views we had of this natural wonder.


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