[AZ-Observing] Alaska Sky Photos Posted

  • From: Tom Polakis <tpolakis@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <AZ-Observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 23 Sep 2005 1:21:33 -0400

Hi all,

I have posted the sky photos I took while we were in Alaska for two weeks.

http://www.pbase.com/polakis/alaska_sky

In addition to the aurora displays, we were treated to a spectacular views of 
the moon just above the southern horizon (yes, southern).

That moon was at a declination of -28 degrees.  From the northerly latitude of 
Homer, the elevation above the southern horizon was barely more than 2 degrees.

Some other notes on the three bright auroral displays.  The September 10 
display was of the all-sky variety, well, actually terminating about 20 degrees 
above the southern horizon.  It was very dynamic, and while this is good for 
visual observing, it's not favorable for photography.  Quite a bit of smearing 
of fine curtain structure occurred during even the 10-second exposures.  This 
aurora kept us up at various locations until 4:00 a.m.

The September 13 display showed enough promise to travel down the road from our 
friends Jeff and Karen Medkeff's home to the nearby Nature Center.  This night 
promptly clouded over.  And Alaska clouds block out not just stars, but the sun 
for days and days.

We were fortunate to have a clear night on September 15, and again traveled to 
the Nature Center.  This aurora was mainly the usual lime green, with the 
bright rays in the east being a nearly permanent, but ever-changing feature.  
The fisheye lens was on the camera for a period during which they flared into 
something that looked like a Hollywood version of aurorae.  Hundreds of rays 
sparkled across the northern sky in living color for about 10 minutes, and then 
the aurora returned to its orginal state.

It was predicted that September 16 was going to be another big night, but the 
clouds returned for the rest of our stay.

I highly recommend visiting Alaska in early September.  The tourist season ends 
abruptly around Labor Day, and darkness begins to return to the nights.  It's a 
pretty brief window, however, before many of the tourist services close.

Tom

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