Watching the aurora

Thanks to the intervention of my friend Amanda, I spent the weekend at my friend Sabrina’s cottage on Paugh Lake, near Barry’s Bay, Ontario.

I had high hopes for a clear view of the fading Perseid meteor shower on Friday and Saturday night. Friday night was overcast and raining, though it was still remarkable to be in a place where rain falling on roofs and water, along with animal noises, were the only things audible. I am not sure when I was last outside a major urban area, but there haven’t been many cases since I moved to Toronto.

Saturday gifted us with perfect astronomical viewing conditions: far from city lights, and untroubled by the moon. We didn’t see a lot of meteors, but the sky was so full of stars that it made identifying familiar constellations a challenge. Across the sky, the band of the Milky Way was clearly visible, wheeling above us as the night went on.

Experimenting with some long exposures with my Fuji X100S (and a stepladder and dishcloth as an improvised tripod) I was surprised to see that the vague light in the northern sky came out as brilliant colour when photographed at 1600 ISO with a 30″ exposure.

I ended up spending hours photographing the aurora. There will be high quality images soon (and animated GIF is a terribly low-quality format for something so beautiful), but I wanted to put something up right away that would show the movement of the lights.

You may need to click the thumbnail to see the animation:

Aurora Borealis from Paugh Lake, Ontario 1/3

Aurora Borealis from Paugh Lake, Ontario 2/3

Aurora Borealis from Paugh Lake, Ontario 3/3

Aside from reducing the resolution and converting them to GIF format, these images are straight from the camera, not manipulated with any sort of software.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

6 thoughts on “Watching the aurora”

  1. These are spectacular! I am so glad that you could capture this evening and have a weekend in the country as well.

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