Ko-So-A-Do

Hikari's Food/Japanophile and Other Interesting Stuff blog

Back in the saddle again (Now, with northern lights!)

on June 30, 2013

Greetings, All!

Back in the blogging saddle again!

My university career has ended with a nice, new shiny degree! The vacation needed a vacation to recover from the first vacation. WHY did I decide to drive to Vegas? AGAIN? Friends sent unexpected gifts!

The above topics will have individual blogs dedicated to them, possibly out of order from when they actually happened. For now, I want to talk Geomagnetic Storms! Yeah, that’s right, Solar flares and Northern lights. Aurora Borealis, Baby!

Scientific mumbo-jumbo aside, taller lines mean more visible the further south you are.

Scientific mumbo-jumbo aside, taller lines mean it’s more visible the further south you are.

As you can see, a large amount of solar radiation wafted over the globe Friday night – Saturday morning. Having grown up in the South, I never really expected to see any of this in person, until I moved to the Northwest. Well, there was that one trip to visit family in Canada, but that faint, tiny green streak on the horizon might have been something else. Unfortunately, since moving up here, I usually either find out about such events after they’ve happened or it’s too cloudy to see squat.

Friday night was a fluke. About 11:30, we wanted ice cream. A quick trip to the local grocery had us coming home -and facing North- before midnight. At first, the green haze looked creepy, like some kind of toxic smoke across the sky. Then I saw the solar streaks. Holy Heavenly sights, Batman! Luckily, the road was mostly deserted as I took my foot off the gas and stared up at the sky. Luckier still, we were less than a minute from home.

Wouldn't you freak out after seeing this?

Wouldn’t you freak out after seeing this? Maybe Stephen King’s Tommyknockers is affecting my judgement.

After pulling into the driveway, Hubby dashed into the house to secure our frozen treats while I hung out in the yard to find the northern horizon filled with a glowing green wash. It was still quite ominous and felt closer than it should have been, like I needed to go find a gas-mask and start downing Iodine tablets. It didn’t help that there was a hill to the north, with the outline barely visible, as if the “cloud” was slowly crawling over it. But then, those lovely streaks again. First from the left, then from the brighter blob on the right. Brighter spears of light shooting straight from the glowing mass like flashlight beams.

This was in Montana, but gives you a good idea of what we saw.

This was in Montana, but gives you a good idea of what we saw.

Even Hubby said it looked wrong, as his experiences usually involved those rivers of light normally caught in photographs and video. He got bored early and went inside as the light show faded back into the green haze. I went inside a few minutes later for my ice cream and then went back outside to loiter for another half hour or so. But the streaking had ended for us, unless it picked back up later in the evening after we stopped watching. Just more of the eerie green haze.  I must say, it got my creative juices flowing, my head filled with post-apocalyptic fantasies.

Another shot from Montana, but very bright. Gotta love those HQ cameras!

Another shot from Montana, but very bright. Gotta love those HQ cameras!

I found an Android app to track the aurora and found Solarham.net, the one-stop-shop for all my solar flare needs. Maybe the next time it happens, I’ll be ready! Now if I only had a camera that could capture nighttime images.

Edit, 7/7/2013: After reading up a bit about Aurora, it seems one CAN get radiation poisoning if the solar flare is strong enough! so maybe, my paranoia wasn’t so delusional after all (re: the bit about iodine tablets).

I dug out my camera to try to see if I could capture some of the glowing beauty when the next wave got close enough to see on the night of the 5th-6th. Not much but a faint green horizon and my poor camera caught crappy photos at the highest ISO of 6400… Only slightly pretty if I scaled them down to 320×240. Without a manual hold for the shutter to hold it open longer, I’m a bit SOL. But no way am I going to buy a DSLR just for northern lights!

Just an example of the best I could get out of my poor camera.

Just an example of the best I could get out of my poor camera.

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