View Full Version : Showtime

11-08-2004, 01:23 AM
The clouds cleared for a few minutes here. I whipped outside with the camera and snapped a few pics. Conditions not that great but hey, better than nothing.



11-08-2004, 02:02 AM
Nice pictures. Now I understand about your chair.


Kevin F
11-08-2004, 07:32 AM

11-08-2004, 10:53 AM
Wow, thats amazing.

I'm not a big traveler, but the northern lights are on the "gotta see" list for someday.

Is that a time exposure or is that really what you see with the naked eye?

11-08-2004, 11:44 AM
In this case it is a time exposure. These were very dim. However, the aurora are in my opinion the most spectacular sight to be seen in the sky. They can be bright enough to cast shadows. Every color is possible. I have seen brilliant aurora from downtown Edmonton where the city lights are so bright as to completely obscure the stars. One fall evening when I was in High Level, Alberta the aurora covered the entire sky, waving and shimmering, like fluorecent paint drooling down from the overhead center of the sky. It was a giant dome of fantasy, better than any rock concert light show. I am hooked on the sky.

11-08-2004, 02:44 PM
Glorious! Thanks Evan.

11-08-2004, 03:09 PM
Maybe the answer to this is obvious...tho not to me right at the moment. But is the Aurora Borealis ever seen in a direction that's predominantly east or west (or even south for that matter) of one's viewing point. I'm speaking of normal locations, where people actually live, not smack on the Nth Pole. I remember one period of really intense solar/geo-magnetic activity years ago when it was reported visible down near Singapore. Just wondering if northern latitude dwellers would've seen it to the south at that time.
Most southerly location I ever saw it was near Council Bluffs, IA. But of course it was in the northern sky. Very brilliant and persistent on that occasion.

...who's the most northerly dweller we have here?

11-08-2004, 03:13 PM
I live in SW Wisconsin...
Last night the brightest northern lights were due south of me.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've seen the lights.

11-08-2004, 05:53 PM

It's not just how far north you are. What matters is your magnetic declination which is how far you are from the magnetic pole. The magnetic pole is far removed from the actual north pole. It also moves unpredictably from year to year. There is an online calculator that you can use to determine your magnetic declination. Mine is around 19 degrees. Since the magnetic pole is in northern Canada it places people in the UK much further away from the magnetic pole even if they are farther north.


I've seen the aurora in all directions but north is the most common. The aurora forms a halo around the north magnetic pole.

Go here for the aurora forecast for your region.


[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 11-08-2004).]

11-08-2004, 07:09 PM
I remember seeing the northern lights from the top of Balsam Mountain in western North Carolina in November of 1957. (No jokes about the Aurora Borealis being new at that time, please!!)
I was with a carload of other boys on the way home from N.C.State College for the Thanksgiving holidays. I have never seen them before or since that time.

11-08-2004, 07:16 PM
I'm somewhat familiar with the aurora process. Back in the 70's, I worked in the NORAD forecast center inside Cheyenne Mtn, Colo. That was a combined solar, ionospheric, and atmospheric forecasting unit. I was in the atmospheric branch, but had daily exposure to the solar/ionospheric activities. Of course my knowledge has dimmed with the passage of 30 years.

I thought the magnetic declination is a measure of the angle of deviation (east or west) between mag. Nth and True Nth for a specific location. Or am I getting my terms confused. I also remember a parameter which you applied to a map to adjust the magnetic declination for each year since the date of the map. ...don't remember that term tho either.

I guess the question I was trying to ask is: how tightly concentrated around the mag nth pole, is the aurora normally found?

11-08-2004, 07:42 PM
I had the good fortune of working at a place called Ungava. It is a far north peninsula bounded by northern Labrador. I seeing you all mention the beautiful colors but no one mentioned the sound. The silence in the north allows you to hear them as well, as they wave accross the sky. It is sort of like the sound of wind and transformer hum combined. Plenty of nights we would shut our machines down and just listen and watch. A sight and sound never to be forgotten. I'm not really that far from there now and they still put on spectacular light shows. Some night I am going to go out to a point, not far from my home and see if I can still here them.

11-08-2004, 07:48 PM
The terms "magnetic declination", "magnetic deviation" and "magnetic variation" are often misused even by what seem to be reliable authoritative sources. Magnetic declination is the angular distance from the magnetic north pole, also known as magnetic latitude. Magnetic variation is the difference between true north and compass north and may be east, west or none. This is also often incorrectly called the magnetic deviation. Magnetic deviation is the error present in a compass caused by local effects and magnetic anomalies such as surrounding metal or ore deposits.

There is also magnetic dip error. This is cause by the fact that the closer you are to the magnetic pole the more vertical the field lines are. When you are too close a compass will not function. This is known as the "area of compass unreliability".

Maps do usually have variation error for the particular map sheet printed on the corners. It is an average variation for the sheet. Also printed is the direction and rate of drift of the magnetic pole. Some maps have isogonic lines drawn on them which indicates where variation is equal. This information is only good for a few years as the drift and rate of drift of the magnetic poles is unpredictable over time.

I point out that this is all stuff I learned to get my pilot's licence.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 11-08-2004).]

11-08-2004, 07:52 PM
It is kinda surprising how many people have never or rarely seen the Nothern Lights. It`s one of the ever changing wonders of the earth that descriptions can`t do justice to. I remember from my days in the Yukon north of Dawson City how they could completely cover the sky from horizon to horizon and the sizzle they made. Astonishing!

11-08-2004, 08:15 PM

Many people have reported hearing sound associated with the aurora. This is an unsolved mystery as it has never been scientifically documented to happen nor has anyone been able to propose a plausible explanation for a mechanism. I personally have never heard it. The aurora occurs so high in the atmosphere that it isn't possible for sound to be transmitted directly from it. The aurora occurs at 100 to 500 kilometers high. That is space so no sound conduction is possible.

11-08-2004, 08:26 PM
Thank you for the pictures! I am one who has never seen the "lights", I did spend a winter in Edmonton, but was busy looking at the various neon lights I could find.

I'm located in Salt Lake City, and though one can occasionally get a glimpse, I've never had the good fortune to do so.

11-08-2004, 08:48 PM
Evan, I know there is no way they could actually be heard, and I have always wondered what it was that was making the noise. It was dead silent there and I do mean silent, my heartbeat seemed like a drum beat. I am sure it`s like that at Williams Lake too sometimes. Is there the possibility that it was a illusion generated in the ear itself? Sort of like a "ringing" in the ears is? Or did my mind create it because of the total sensory deprivation of sound and make it what my subconscious said it should be, based on having heard at some time in the past what it sounded like?

11-08-2004, 08:48 PM
Oops! Double post!

[This message has been edited by Arcane (edited 11-08-2004).]

Michael Az
11-08-2004, 08:55 PM
Thanks for the great photo's Evan. Beautiful!! With me living almost in old Mexico, not much chance for me to see them.

charlie coghill
11-08-2004, 09:06 PM
I live in Southern Oregon and about twenty years the light came down this far.

At the time I lived a good ways out in the woods. It was about 2100 hours and there was this red glow in the sky. I was on the road home and the light seemed to be coming from the direction of my house. The first thought was my house was on fire and the glow was a reflection of the fire.

Finally arriving home I figured out what the glow was and now I have one more of lifes experiences.

11-08-2004, 09:06 PM
Last night was probably the best display of Northern Lights I've ever seen in our area---SW Wisconsin.We were driving home about 9:00 PM and I could see them in the distance even with the car lights on.When we got home I went out in the front field to observe.About 2/3 of the sky was covered by them.The best show was to lay on the ground and look straight up.Looked like lightning flashing on a cloud bank---only there was'nt a cloud in the sky.Saw a couple of meteorites too--quite a show.

11-09-2004, 12:10 AM
Hey, thanks people. Those are far from the best pics I have of the Aurora but I never miss a chance to see them if I can help it.


Your explanations are as good as any. It is absoulutely silent in my back yard and I haven't heard them. Too many people claim to have heard them to just dismiss it as an overworked imagination. Or, maybe that is it. The lights can be awestriking. If they did have a sound it should be a sort of sizzle and crackle underlaid with pure harmonies just barely audible.

Dave Opincarne
11-09-2004, 12:12 AM
Evan, are you sure about your 19* declination? Every chart I've seen for my area has 20-22* and I'm south of you. Checking my maps, USGS 7 1/2 min series for Huricane Hill (Olympics) shows 23* W declination and Green Trails 15 min series for Greenwater (Rainer) shows 20* W declination. Does Canada use a different cartographic standard than USGS? I know there are several different ways to determine the north pole as well. Could that account for the differencesw in numbers?


Dave Opincarne
11-09-2004, 12:14 AM
OH, lynnl when where you at Cheyene Mountain? My Dad was a communications officer (Lt Col) he retired in '70


11-09-2004, 12:44 AM
I was reading once about magnetic abnomilties being the prime reason behind alien abduction reports.

THE super train in Japan, they say vivid intense dreams can follow a ride.

I wonder..

They also say magnetics is the prime reason people see ghosts.. Not so much they empower the ghosts, just the hallucination and perception of them.

Do the Aurora affect people and animal? Is it just plasmatic gases? Are / IS everyone north of the area actually mentally affected?

They say the mental health of the Tennessee people is diet. *strong mental health concerns. I think it is the scottish people who just settled here myself.. A heavy corn diet and a chemical imbalance.

AND then I read about the extreme magnetic fields inside power plants and see lots of people I know come down with cancer. BUt then I feel cancer is like Warts, caused by the mind's subconsious. If you harbor foul thoughts and fits of concience you can make yourself sick one way or another.. Each person has thier own demons inside they must thwart. Some just hte temptation of a chocolate pie or a drink of whiskey brings hours of resentment and guilt.

Too many weighted thoughts too late at night, I am off to bed. I got a software bug biting me and making me butt my head against the monitor. Perhaps it was the cajun food we had for supper? Or, is the moon affecting me, just ask a cop, are people affected by the phases of the moon?

Be Happy, I hope to one day view the northern lights in person.


11-09-2004, 01:09 AM
I was at Cheyenne Mtn from Sep 1970 to Mar 1973.

11-09-2004, 02:19 AM

You and I are approximately on a circle drawn around the present location of the magnetic north pole which is currently situated in Hudson's Bay. Our magnetic declination is similar.

The west declination on the chart is actually the variation, not the magnetic declination or latitude. As I said those terms are frequently misused. Magnetic declination does not have a west or east component.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 11-09-2004).]

11-09-2004, 06:04 AM
Hi Dave, I know that I`m affected by the moon, especially the full moon, awooooo. But then so is the wind and tides so I`m not toooo concerned. The full moon invigorates me, I also like fine days, standing in the rain(sometimes), the sea,the bush and on. Mostly every day above ground is a good day.
Strong magnetic field such as the turbine floor at Huntly makes me feel decidedly 'strange', I cannot be in that environment. Could have been the field or maybe the resonance or both.
Those of you who are able to experience the auroa are really blessed
I`ll just get up off the psychiatrist couch now http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif
keep well all, Ken

[This message has been edited by speedy (edited 11-09-2004).]

11-09-2004, 11:02 AM
Speedy.. I have carried a 4" cresent since I was 18.. (lost the original to the sequoah nuclear guards)

Walking close to a operating Turbine-generator as the poles pass the cresent jumps like it is alive in my pocket. I will never get used to that feeling.. I run a few steps everytime something "I know is not there" starts moving in my pocket.

I had one buddy who said he could not stand the harmonics-vibrations, he had a plate of some kind in his skull. I thought them were stainless thou?

11-09-2004, 11:18 AM
good morning.

interesting thread here.

i live about 100 miles southeast of dallas. some time [maybe 10-15 years] ago, i saw the lights from my yard for a period of 3 or 4 nights. i am sure that i noted this in a calendar, but cannot find that notation at the moment. i do recall that it was cold when this happened.

i worked in alaska for a while back in the 70's. as i recall, the lights were about the only benefit of that job. too cold for me.

i do keep hoping to see them again before i die. thanks, Evan, for the pictures.


Bob Bueling
11-10-2004, 01:53 PM
Here's a picture from space:

Paul Alciatore
11-10-2004, 02:21 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by ibewgypsie:

I had one buddy who said he could not stand the harmonics-vibrations, he had a plate of some kind in his skull. I thought them were stainless thou?</font>


Stainless may not be magnetic but the electromagnetic field may have set up a current in it which may have been felt directly as a small voltage effect or it may have produced an electromagnet that then vibrated at 60 or 120 cycles. I imagine either of those effects could be quite uncomfortable inside one's head. Perhaps even very painfull.

Remember, even aluminum can feel an alternating electromagnetic field.

Paul A.

11-10-2004, 06:25 PM
You want to see lights - go to Iceland.
Better yet...fly around Iceland and the Arctic Circle at 26K feet in a P3 Orion and check 'em out.
Kind of creepy - like fingers reaching down out of the sky and grabbing at you.

11-11-2004, 03:32 AM
Nice Evan.

Best view I ever had of the Norhten lights was on Great Bear Lake in the North West Territorries. Used to sit outside and read by their light in the fall. Totally spectacular - you could hear them buzz.