The best solar storm of the year so far occurred on Saturday night and Sunday morning the 7th and 8th of May. The auroras were easily visible from inside the city limits which means they are very bright, so around 11pm I grabbed my camera gear and headed south of town. It was a very clear night, so I didn’t need to travel too far for nice dark skies. After travelling about 15 or 20 kilometres south I found a nice high spot with no power lines to intrude in the picture. Man I hate it when I don’t notice power lines until I review my images later. It can easily happen as I work rather quick when taking aurora pictures as they don’t necessarily last very long. Typically you see the pale green aurora that are not very dramatic, sometimes for hours, and then all of a sudden the auroral storm intensifies for maybe 10 minutes. That’s when I jump into action, usually with a very wide-angle lens like the Rokinon 14mm or 24mm. On this night I took a few pictures with these two lenses but the auroral display was across the whole sky and I decided to use my 12mm full frame fish-eye lens. These fish-eye lenses cover 180º, which is a lot of sky! Remember those power lines I mentioned, yeah sometimes they creep into the edge or corners of images which drives me crazy. So this first site, being clear of power lines and offering up a beautiful view looking south, was fabulous. You can see the lights from Calgary glowing on the horizon. I de-fisheyed the picture in photoshop. For the first time, for me, I managed to capture a blue streak of aurora in the upper right edge of the picture. The blue is caused by ionized nitrogen in the atmosphere and usually appear at the lowest level of the curtains and at the highest levels of solar activity. This picture may be a view of almost 600km of sky from one edge to the next and the auroras were pulsating the whole time I was out, which is always very dramatic to view!
The next picture shows one of the gravel roads in Red Deer County looking south. Fun thing is the Big Dipper is in the picture just above centre right and the North Star is right at the top edge, which simply shows how much sky a fish-eye lens sees! Can you find the Dipper?? The red glow is from my car’s tail lights.
The last picture is from a spot high up on the hills south of Red Deer which allows me to see the city’s lights quite nicely. I kept shooting as the shapes kept changing very quickly. In this picture the aurora looks like a bird flying over Red Deer! The show on this night didn’t last only 10 minutes, but instead I was treated to nearly an hour of gorgeous auroras!!