I awoke Friday morning to an alert on my phone from the Solaris Alpha app (Android) to find that there had been a massive X1.4 class solar flare at around 2.30am. This is exciting, X is top of the class when it comes to solar flares, they are major events and can cause long lasting geomagnetic storms. The X1.4 solar flare came from sunspot 1520, which is the largest sunspot that we have seen in recent years, what’s more, it was pointed directly at earth. I tracked the news of the solar flare over the next few days. I source most of my information from www.spaceweather.com. The CME (coronal mass ejection) that followed the solar flare eventually hit earth on Sunday morning at around 4am.
At first it’s effects appeared to be minimal. The Earth’s magnetic field registered a sharp hit, but everything appeared to return to normal within a few minutes. At 8.30am I headed out the door to my client portrait sessions for the day. A lovely 4 month old baby and his family and a maternity session for the lovely Lisa. I completely expected all the good Aurora stuff to happen during our daylight hours – typical! Nothing exciting was reported all day and then at around 4pm things started to get interesting. I arrived home from my final session of the day, dropped my gear, got changed and reported to my fabulous husband, that I was indeed going out again. The Aurora was happening, it was pouring with rain, but I wasn’t going to risk not being around to photograph it if we got a break in the weather. Plus I bought a new Manfrotto tripod on Friday, expecting to use it on the weekend! And I was determined to make it worth my while spending an extra $100 to buy it local and NOW by using it ASAP.
I picked up my friend Kelly on the way and we decided to try a close by location, with zero success, so instead we headed quickly to a spot that we both knew well in South Arm – tonight was not the night to go scouting out a new location! As we drove through Howrah we could see the curtains of the Aurora shimmering above us. We were SUPER excited! We arrived at South Arm look out to find the carpark FULL of cars – we are usually the only ones out here! ha! We were instantly rewarded with our efforts, the rain stopped almost immediately, we set up our gear and straight away the curtains of the Aurora started rippling across the sky. The images below include single frame images and also multiple frames manually blended together to create wide panoramas.
Most of these are taken at around 20 seconds, F4 and 2000 ISO. You won’t see the colours with your eyes but they will show up in your photos. Happy Aurora Hunting!
Astrblogger Ian Musgrave is a regular on our Aurora spotting facebook group and shares excellent advice and tips. Check out his blog of this Aurora event complete with links to other photos. http://astroblogger.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/images-from-aurora-of-15-and-16-july.html
All images copyright Katinka Smith.