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On This Night November 5th / 6th, 2001

(Hi everybody!  I hope all is well in your world!  Here’s to hoping that history repeats itself!) 


On this night, 20 years ago on November 5th/6th, 2001 in the early evening, skies remained crystal clear over most of Alaska.  Thick ice fog settled over the city as temperatures dropped below zero once again for at least a week.


After spending multiple long nights out in the field, another “all-nighter” seemed a rather tiring undertaking, however…!  Giving in to the need to continue nightly vigils, the truck was packed with gear & I headed out around 9 pm.


30 miles out I finally exited the ice fog & was “greeted” to a windshield filled with powerful multicolored aurora.  Highway driving & trying to watch aurora is not safe at all, as dancing aurora can disorient drivers off the road.


Not being where I needed to be yet, I lowered the visor & concentrated on safely getting to a more remote location another 15 minutes away.


As energetic & bright as the auroras were, this was a very difficult thing to do…I could still see the reflection & light from its dance filling the truck cab & on the hood, always tempted to steal a glance out the window.


Not hitting a moose or running off the road was paramount though…those two things can really ruin your day…or “night”, in this case!


Finally arriving out on a frozen river delta away from all man-made light, the tripods & cameras were maneuvered in place to capture the once-in-a-lifetime scenes.


Back in the day, these images are taken with fully manual Nikon bodies, Nikon f1.2, f1.4, f1.6 & f2.0 lenses with Fujichrome 50 & 100 ASA 35mm Slide films…(remember film?)…no noteworthy digital cameras then!


All-sky red auroras are extremely rare & may only occur a few times over several decades.  Such events can be seen far equator-ward, as low as 25°-35° latitude.


I’ve only witnessed two such enormous rare auroras in March 2001 & 1989, other red auroral displays have been witnessed but were small.


Of course one will only experience such a wonder if you have clear skies & stay awake out under the stars.  Patience, perseverance & lost sleep allowed me an exceptional gift here on this night.


With Solar Cycle 25 beginning to ramp up solar activity & climbing to Solar Maximum now, scenes like this are becoming possible again!  May these natural wonders soon grace the stars across the night near you!


Enjoy!  :oD




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