September 7, 2002: A spectacular display!

In the afternoon, I received an e-mail from an astronomy club member that an aurora alert was out. A quick check of the aurora sentry website showed that the aurora was already active but starting to diminish somewhat after sunset. After dropping off our teenagers at two different locations, my wife and I went east of Manchester to Auburn, on the east shore of Lake Massabesic. There we went to a boat ramp we were somewhat familiar with and quickly jumped out of the truck to see a large arc stretching across the northern sky but there was no serious activity. This changed shortly after I had set up my cameras. In the northwest, between Arcturus and the big dippers "handle", I noticed rays beginning to develop. Suddenly they jumped to deep reds, pinks, and oranges and stretched up into the northwest sky. Pollyann was ecstatic. She had never seen the aurora like this and it had been a long time for me as well. Shortly after this incredible burst of activity, some boaters came into land their boat (with white lights of course). Pollyann assisted while I moved the cameras to a new location just as the activity shifted to the northeast near Cassiopea. These rays marched across the sky through the constellations of Ursa Minor/Major (the big and little dippers). Again, there were deep reds, pinks, greens, and orange colors with many rays that almost reached to the zenith. Pollyann was awestruck and kept asking aloud if I was photographing the event. The fishermen with the boat were also impressed and my wife gave them a quick tutorial about aurora. By the time they had left, another couple decided to launch their boat (note to self, don't observe aurora from near a boat ramp) and joined in on the observing. Unfortunately, the aurora had died down to the north. By 10PM, we decided the event was over and headed home. We thought the aurora was over, but this was not quite true.

Auroral arc and rays to the Northwest start to increase.

An airplane landing at the airport is at the bottom as the rays intensify.

In this 28mm shot, the plane has moved to the south and one can see the rays as well as an "s" shaped arc. This is also reflected in the lake.

Later the arcs marched across the northern sky. Note the bright patch that shifted from the east to the west during the photograph.

More rays between the big and little dipper. The satellite track is for Lacrosse2 making the actual time of the exposure around 9:28-9:29 PM

The multiple colors are noticeable in this image of the dipper's handle and further to the north.


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