Unusual Auroral Forms

August 1-2, 2002
Photographs taken between 10:45 p.m. on August 1, 2002, and 1:00 a.m. on August 2, 2002

Taken at about 10:45 p.m. - Looking northwest.  You can see some sunlight above the horizon.  Sunset was at 9:15 p.m. tonight - Thursday, August 1, 2002.

This is looking east southeast.  I barely noticed this ray - it was not bright like the aurora to the north.  Had I not focused on this subtle aurora - I would have missed it - and not taken any photographs.

This photo - believe it or not - is looking to the southwest.

This photo is looking to the southeast.  You can see the lights of Bismarck, ND to the south.

This photo is looking to the southwest.

This photo is looking to the east-southeast.

This photo is looking to the east-southeast.

This photo is looking to the east-northeast, just after midnight.

A corona - about 12:15 a.m.

Looking northeast - about 12:25 a.m.

Looking northeast - about 12:25 a.m.

Looking northeast - about 12:25 a.m.

Looking northeast - about 12:25 a.m.

Looking northeast - about 12:25 a.m.

Looking north - about 12:45 a.m.  Typical of the activity until 1:30 p.m. and later.

Thursday, August 1

7:00 a.m.  I have the day off tomorrow.  I'm thinking about going to the farm to hike at 6:15 a.m. tomorrow morning.

11:00 a.m.  A minor geomagnetic storm is in progress - and it's daylight.  Why couldn't this happen tonight when it's dark out?

6:40 p.m.  I check the computer.  www.spacew.com says that another CME "hit" the earth.  Activity could increase, but no watch or warning will be posted (yet).  Another web site predicts a KP level of 5 until 1 a.m.

6:50 p.m.  I decide to go to the farm for an overnighter.  Upon checking the forecast, I learn that lows could be in the mid-40s.  The record low for this date is 40 in 1971.

8:00 p.m.  I arrive at the farm, about 2.5 hours before it will be dark enough to see the northern lights - if they are active.  The last show that I saw was in mid-May 2002, and so even if I see a small show, that would be great.

9:15 p.m.  The sun sets.

9:20 p.m.  I finish a small hike, enjoying the comfort of my jacket as it's 50 degrees on the first day of August.

10:25 p.m.  It's one hour and 10 minutes after sunset.  I'm ready to view the aurora.  I see that it's light in the northeast, but it's difficult to tell if it's the northern lights or my wishful thinking.  I wait for it to get darker.

10:30 p.m.  It does look like there are northern lights in the northeast sky.  I take my first photograph.  Soon an arc appears in the north and northeast parts of the sky (but not to the northwest where it's too bright).  Venus is close to setting in the western sky.  It's clear, still and a very beautiful evening.

10:45 p.m.  While scanning the sky, I look to the east-southeast and take note of what looks like a single ray.  That's strange.  What is it doing away from the main and bright activity to the northeast and north?

10:50 p.m.  The milky way is visible.  My companions for the evening - a number of coyotes - are howling.  I can hear cows - in a nearby pasture - and traffic from U.S. Highway 83, about 1.5+ miles to the east.

10:54 p.m.  The arc in the northern sky gets brighter.  All of a sudden, I see two meteors to the east.  Also, the ray to the the east-southeast gets brighter.

11:00 a.m.  The ray to the east-south-east moves more to the south.

11:02 p.m.  I see my third meteor.

11:07 p.m.  One tall ray in the northwest sky reaches through the bucket of the Big Dipper.  Also, there are now two rays in the southeast sky - my view of the "southern" lights.

11:10 p.m.  The rays to the southeast start wavelike pulsations from the southeast to the southwest.  Wow!  Very subtle, but definitely the northern lights.

11:25 p.m.  The bright glow of the lights in the northern sky provide enough illumination for me to journal without a flashlight.  Activity quiets in the southern sky.

11:27 p.m.  The northern lights are most active to the east.

11:36 p.m.  I take a break and get some rest (why, I'll never know, although activity was slowing down).

Friday, August 2

12:05 a.m.  I look out the window of my vehicle in which I am sleeping (with my clothes and jacket on, and in a sleeping bag - yes, it's that cold).  There is a substorm, with a tint of red in the eastern sky, and a corona overhead.

12:13 a.m.  I see a bright meteor in the northern sky.

12:15 a.m.  The substorm is at a peak - and unfortunately I have to change film.

12:25 a.m.  The glow of the northern lights is very bright in the northeast.

12:30 a.m.  I can see a single ray forming in the southeast, where there had been a similar ray earlier in the night.

12:38 a.m.  The rays to the southeast start wavelike pulsations, moving from the southeast to the southwest.  Wow again!

12:44 a.m.  I believe that I have seen about 25+ meteors, and maybe one bright fireball.

12:51 a.m.  Activity subsides in the southern sky.  The arc in the north is only about 10 degrees above the horizon, but very bright.

1:02 a.m.  I quit taking photographs.

1:23 a.m.  I look out the window of the vehicle.  The moon is rising, and activity continues in the northern sky.

1:30 to 4:30 a.m.  I look outside a number of times.  A subtle arc persists throughout the evening, just above the horizon, with little activity.

5:30 a.m.  It's cold.  I pull my head into the sleeping bag to keep my head warm.

7:30 a.m. I get up for the day, hike for 20 minutes, and head back into town.  The "weather man" on the radio said that the low for the night was 42 degrees - cold now, but next winter, that will be warm.

8:30 a.m.  I arrive home, pleased with the activity that I saw just 8-10 hours ago.  A fine outing indeed!



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