Unexpected Aurora
  Conor McDonald
  Maghera, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Photo Title
  Unexpected Aurora
Time and Date taken
  8th May 2005 0000ut
Equipment used
  Camera and tripod
Capturing device used
  Canon Digital IXUS 2 3 Megapixel Digital Camera
Technical details

15second exposures at maximum ISO

Photo1 is unprocessed while photos 2 and 3 are histogram stretched to enhance the aurora banding detail

At around 12am last night I had decided to go out and test my new camera I had got. Just before I was leaving the house I checked the Aurora oval and the activity was building up fast. I grabbed my camera, got on some warm clothes and headed out to meet Martin. He was already outside with his scope and he had noticed the sky being very bright. When I went in and grabbed my scope, Martin noticed a beam as I was not properly dark adapted. At this time I had only got my camera not earlier and didn’t really know the settings. I took many small 2sec exposures. You could see the beams and the arc no problem, but there was no colour or any nice detail. At this stage the Aurora had really taken over the North and west of the sky with a lovely green arc and many sharp blue/purple beams. The Aurora just kept growing and growing and turned in to be a great display. When my camera was full the Aurora had now died off so I decided to run in and load them on to the computer and come back out with my camera empty. On the way out of the house again I hit a few buttons on my camera by mistake. When I came out in the back garden martin was still taking images of the now faint Aurora. When I set up the camera I was ready for a 2sec exposure but it just lasted for a lot longer! I found out that I had a 15sec exposure on my small 3.2mp camera. I couldn’t believe it. So away I went in to the football pitch and started taking exposure after exposure. The only bad thing was the Aurora was now quite dim and barely only a few beams visible. The time was now approaching 2:30am and clouds were moving in. My camera was going battery dead as of many long exposures and the cold. I grabbed a few last shots of this and then the camera went. By now it was 3:15am and dawn was near. So we packed up and head in after a long very enjoyable night!!!


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