The Aurora Forecast is Good but Will it Come?

I can’t imagine that there are too many parts of the world that didn’t hear something about the significant coronal mass ejection that came the way of earth in May 2024.  If you lived nearer the poles, aurora discussions were everywhere, and social media posts were full of it.  If you lived elsewhere, you probably still heard about the potential technical issues our infrastructure could experience.  I have had no luck with previous aurora potential sightings so, while this was of interest, I had a dose of skepticism.

I didn’t make any plans to go and find a location to see the aurora if it was visible in our area although I had checked out the dark skies maps to see how bad the light pollution was here and how far I would have to go to make a difference.  I didn’t do anything with this data though.  We were watching a movie in the evening and, when it finished, I stepped outside to see if anything was visible.  It was about 10pm and there was nothing.

I went to get ready for bed but kept my clothes on just in case.  At about 10:30, I went out again and still the skies were clear.  I had read that 10pm to 2am was a good window so I was still at the beginning of this so didn’t give up completely.  I messed around with a few other things and then figured I would have one more go outside before giving up and going to bed.  Fortunately, this proved to be the right choice.  I stepped out of the front door and saw something strange in the sky above us like a streak.  I watched for a bit and then things started to get livelier.

I grabbed my camera and the tripod and went out to grab some shots.  I also let Nancy know this was all going on since I hadn’t taken my phone outside with me.  For the next hour or so, I just stared at the sky.  The colors that the camera reproduced are far different to what I could see.  It is a more sensitive device for this light than my eyeball, but I could clearly see purples and greens in the sky.  The colors weren’t rapidly changing but you could see the transitions occurring.  One of our neighbors returned while I was out so wandered over to ask if I could see anything and I pointed behind them.  They were amazed by the sight and spent the rest of the time I was out looking as well.

At one point, I was beginning to be a bit tired, and the colors were fading a little, so I decided to call it a night.  Just as I said goodbye and walked back towards the house, the skies lit up again.  It was not letting me go that easily.  I watched for a little longer and then decided I had got a good enough experience and headed indoors.  It was certainly an amazing thing to witness.  Maybe somewhere with less light pollution would have made things better but it was pretty good seeing all of this over our houses.  The following night was supposed to be another good one, but the intensity was less, and I decided to sleep instead!

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