- Posted March 28, 2012 by
Atigun Pass, Alaska
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Light Years: Your view of space and stars
Alaska Arctic Aurora
I had been planning for months a trip to Norther Alaska, past the Arctic Circle on the Dalton highway to experience and photograph the Aurora Borealis, directly under the aurora band. I had chosen the week of March 21st for several reasons. The first was related to having a new moon so the sky would be the darkest,and the aurora the brightest. The second was the month of March 21st, which is spring equinox and one of the 2 peak months of the year, and finally the year 2012 which is a period of increased solar activity in the sun's 11 year cycle. The Road over the Dalton highway was an adventure in itself, passing through amazing mountains and arctic plains. The journey from Fairbanks to North of Coldfoot took about 7 hours. We parked at the bottom of Atigun Pass area surrounded by mountains which included the Brooks Range. We got to our look out point around 9 pm. The experts say the best viewing time is midnight +-2 hrs. We waited for several hours and became concerned we were not going to see anything. Around 1215am, 23 March the sky exploded. It started with red and green glows above the mountain range, and soon the Aurora arched completely across the sky from end to another.
What Aurora pictures never capture is the movement of the Aurora across the sky. The lights move in waves, shimmers, pulses, and ripples. My friend and I were so excited about what we were seeing we forgot for a while about the -27 deg F. temperature. Something else that was spectacular seeing was the reds/pink colors in the lights which is not typical. The light colors are based upon what gases the solar winds are interacting with in the atmosphere. The red colors are created higher up in the earths atmosphere.
Eventually after taking lots of pictures, standing in awe of the event we began to freeze (fingers) and the camera starting freezing up.
It will remain one of the most amazing natural spectacles I have ever seen..