Auroras!

Canadian Yuichi Takasaka takes photos and time-lapse videos of the aurora borealis and the night sky.  Here are a couple;  you’ll find many more on his website and his YouTube channel.

I so want to see this display before I die.

Judging by the star trails, the first photo is  long time-lapse (as it must be given the display!), while the second exposure is very short.  Click to enlarge for full awesomeness.

And here’s one of his videos.  Go see his channel; it’s full of great time-lapse movies—and hardly anybody has visited!

28 Comments

  1. Dominic
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Lovely. Reminds me of Tromsoe where it is right overhead like this.

    Any picures of the aurora australis?

  2. Posted November 9, 2011 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    I share your sentiment about seeing spectacular aurora before kicking the bucket. I have only seen faint glows in the north, and hope to make a special trip sometime to simply wait and watch.

  3. Posted November 9, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    I have seen one. Once. At a mere 45 degrees North, back in the late 90s.

    It was actually kinda terrifying, at first. Green, a little like that one at the top, but like a curtain coming down, across the whole of the horizon. Think it was the same prominence knocked out a pile of comm satellites–could probably figure out the date from that, come to think of it.

    It was so dramatic, and covered so very much of the sky, I figured for a few seconds maybe something very, very bad had happened. Like some kinda weird bomb had been set off, and had actually set fire to the sky. Until I clued in. Truly amazing to see.

  4. ckitching
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I’m a little surprised he’s seeing the aurora so clearly without being much further north. I always figured you had to at least go as far north as Churchill to see such vibrant displays.

    • MadScientist
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      The latitudes at which the aurorae can be seen varies considerably. For example, the Aurora Australia is commonly seen from a sheep farm in New Zealand at a latitude of -45. I’ve also met some folks from Brisbane (about -25Lat) who described what sounds like an aurora, though if it were an aurora it must be very rare that it extends so close to the equator.

  5. Tom Dobrzeniecki
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I have seen it. Believe me, I was too damn cold to enjoy it! I was not thinking, “how beautiful!”, I was thinking “screw these lights, I want to get inside and have a hot cup of coffee!”

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Same here. The most visual displays are under cold weather conditions (at least here in Sweden) and slight breezes or simply evaporation makes it impossible to enjoy for long.

      Good to see once though, even if awe is prominent and enjoyment near negligible.

      • Nicolas Perrault
        Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        Proper clothing will solve all this. I have slept comfortably on the snow at -40 centigrade.

        • Dr. I. Needtob Athe
          Posted November 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

          At -40, there’s no need to specify Fahrenheit or Celsius (“centigrade”). They’re the same!

          • Tom Dobrzeniecki
            Posted November 11, 2011 at 6:06 am | Permalink

            Well, it could have been -40 Kelvin!

            If you can sleep in the snow at -40, you are
            tougher than I am!

            A friend of mine once went on a “survival
            night” in the Air Force — sleeping outdoors in way-below zero conditions. They sneaked along some alcohol to help keep them warm. The alcohol froze!

  6. Matt
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    A couple of years ago I was on a canoe trip in northern Alberta, on the Clearwater river, and we saw amazing auroras. The colour and motion was incredible. It felt like being on drugs or watching angels fall to earth.

  7. Nicolas Perrault
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Photo 1 is a (many minutes) long exposure as can be seen from the trails left by the stars. A beautiful picture to be sure. But the photographer surely saw (in real time) the colors dancing in the sky, an even prettier scene.

  8. CJ
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Very Nice. I’ve been lucky to have experienced the Aurora Borealis.

    Happy Carl Sagan Day!

  9. Posted November 9, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    What I wouldn’t give to have the Northern Lights to play with. 🙂 Great images and thanks for introducing this artist.

  10. Occam
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Great pictures.
    “I so want to see this display before I die.”
    My sentiment also.
    But now that I can no longer travel, I’ll have to enjoy them by proxy.
    I hope you take a time-out to go and see them and bring back some gorgeous images.

    A propos aurora borealis, Jerry, are you familiar with Kristian Birkeland?
    Crazy life, crazy work.

    Perhaps Torbjorn or someone from up north would care to weigh in about Birkeland.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I would love to, but the fact is I know next to nothing. Birkeland is norwegian, which means he had the bottles stamped “open on top” beneath.

      [The norwegian reply is:

      “A Swede was walking with a pig under his arm.
      – Where did you get that pig? asked the Norwegian.
      – At poker, replied the pig.”

      Yes, we love each other.]

      Well, that and that Birkeland gets mentioned by Electric Universe/Plasma Cosmology cultists and by “electric cannon rocket launcher” nutcases _a lot_ on physics blogs.

      I wiki-googled him and he seems to have been an electric personality. Hopefully someone can elaborate.

  11. Vall
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Last week the displays could be seen as far south as Arkanasas and Oklahoma.

    If you are in Chicago, I’d take the train north to Lake county where it’s darker, along the lake. There used to be a good pizza place right near the last stop in Wintrop Harbor. If that place is still there it is worth the trip.

    • Vall
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      oops, Arkansas

  12. MadScientist
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    This may be a good year for aurorae. If you don’t mind the horrible icy conditions you can spend 3 months in Upper Peninsula Michigan and hope for a good coronal mass ejection during that time. Other options include spending a few months further north in a remote part of Canada or in the Norwegian town of Tromso where you can easily escape the artificial lights. Tromso is just inside the Arctic circle so you can view aurorae any time of day in the middle of winter.

    • MadScientist
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Just to add, I think it was Duke Ellington who was driving through Canada and gave an excellent description of an aurora. Or was it Count Basie who saw it?

  13. musubk
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    You do have at least one reader who is a graduate student studying auroras (me!) Here’s a super-wide angle timelapse I took the other night – http://www.flickr.com/photos/musubk/6307202650/in/photostream

    [end self-plug]

    • Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      ’tis also a common topic on my blog

      [serious end of self-plug]

      • Dominic
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 2:20 am | Permalink

        Nice pictures!

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink

        Very cool!

  14. Barbara Necker
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Although I live in Central New York, I had the good luck to see one about 20 years ago (I think). I believe it was the year the sun was sending some weird emissions.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:50 am | Permalink

      Best one I’ve seen was from the top of Whiteface Mountain, sometime in the early 70’s.

  15. Aidan Karley
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Very pretty. Still never seen them (with any confidence) despite nearly 30 years at 57N. Thought I saw them once … but I was driving to a deadline for a helicopter check in and could only look through the windscreen with the gear shift in my ear. I’m still not sure it was a display, or just my eyes going funny.
    One of these days I’ll get paid to go to Tromso. Or Tierra del Fuego. Or Antarctica. I’ll take a camera. And a tripod!.

  16. Diane G.
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Interesting links at that first link to pages about TWAN and Astronomers Without Borders, too.


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  1. […] don’t know what it’s been this last week but I’ve been seeing some awesome photos of the aurora borealis. You know, those pretty lights near the North Pole that looks like someone’s having the […]

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