Piano Keys Aurora

May 01, 2023


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PhotographerJohn Chumack    

Summary AuthorJohn Chumack     

I truly enjoy the dark skies of winter in Alaska, especially when the northern lights allow you to view a portion of the starry sky before completely overwhelming it. On occasion, this can make for an astronomically beautiful duet. The aurora I photographed above, on March 25, 2023, reminds me of piano keys playing as the magnetic field lines shift and pulse colors and shapes across the auroral wall from one end of the sky to the other.

Aside from this magnificent aurora, there's lots to see here. The constellation of Leo is visible at upper left, and the Beehive Star Cluster is at top center. Between the two tall trees at lower right is Orion's Belt; Betelgeuse is just clear of the treetops. You can also detect Mars -- well above the tree line. At lower center is the glow of light pollution from Fairbanks, over 60 miles (100 km) away, and finally at lower right is the orange glow from the waxing crescent Moon, setting behind a cloud deck.

Photo details: Canon 6D DSLR camera; 16mm F2.8 lens; ISO 3200; 10 second exposure.


Chena River State Recreation Area of Alaska Coordinates: 64.8473, -146.2741

Related Links:

Aurora over the Chena Hot Springs, Alaska

John's Website