October 30, 2003: The weather clears in time!
In late October of 2003, two large sunspot groups appeared on the sun that were quite active. Around October 27, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) began that were incredibly large. Unfortunately, the weather in Manchester was cloudy and rainy. I had to wait for the weather to clear and hope the activity did not die out. As luck would have it, a large CME had occurred on the 29th and the sky in NH cleared during the night of the 29th. As sunset occurred on the 30th, I could see activity was strong based on information on the web and emails of an Aurora alert. As the sky darkened, I could see a bright red area above Arcturus in the northwestern sky. My wife and I began to take numerous photographs of the event. In roughly two hours, we exposed over 120 frames using two cameras and a variety of films. The aurora was so massive that even a wide angle lens was inadequate to cover its size. Between 6 and 8 PM the aurora varied in intensity with maximum being around 7-7:30 PM. At this point a beautifully bright corona was visible overhead in the constellation of Pegasus. Even after the peak activity subsided, there was a dull throbbing glow in the sky. Activity rose again around 11PM but only briefly. I would consider this the greatest Aurora I have seen since the March 1989 event that was visible from my home in Orlando, Florida.
Rays dance in the northwest sky. The constellation Hercules is in the upper left. 28MM F2.8 lens using Supra 400 film and a 15 second exposure.
Auroral rays reaching towards the Zenith. This is looking towards the East-Northeast. The constellation of Aries can be seen in the lower right and the constellation of Andromeda is just below center. 28MM F2.8 lens using Supra 400 film and a 15 second exposure.
Auroral rays show their variety in colors as one looks further north. This is looking towards the Northeast and the constellation at center is Cassiopea. 28MM F2.8 lens using Supra 400 film and a 15 second exposure.
Looking towards the west, one can see more rays reaching towards the Zenith. The image is cropped and shows the southern half of the constellation of Hercules. 50mm F1.4 lens using Fuji 400 film and a 15 second exposure. Photograph by my wife Pollyann.
Looking overhead one could see the Corona. This is a cropped image taken by my wife Pollyann. The triangle of stars are those in the northwest corner of the great square of Pegasus. 50mm F1.4 lens using Fuji 400 film and a 15 second exposure.
The corona was immense in size and splashed with all sorts of rays. The constellations visible are the western side of the great square of Pegasus on the left and Delphinus on the right. 28MM F2.8 lens using Supra 400 film and a 15 second exposure.
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