Friday, February 18, 2011

Rumor of Northern Lights

 While driving back from a school program today, I heard the end of a blurb on NPR about there being spectacular northern lights tonight.  Could it be?  I would have to go somewhere out in the country, away from the glare of the city lights, to check them out!  Where would I go?

AH - of course - there is the property I'm looking at possibly purchasing out south of Grass Lake, north (-ish) of Napoleon.  It's rural country - farm country.  If there was any place nearby to see an auroral display, this would be it.

I forgot that tonight is the full moon.  This became apparent immediately as I drove eastward out of the city:  the glare of the moon was as strong as the street lights and the headlights of on-coming traffic.

I pulled in to the driveway of the old farm house and stopped.  It was too early to see anything, so I decided to take the dog for a walk, and to pace out the boundaries of the property, to get a rough idea of just where they were.  A bit over four acres - that's a good-sized chunk of land!  We walked up the dirt road, hopping in and out of the field edges, until a dog chased us back from whence we came.  Then another dog set up the alarm as we neared the property, so we detoured into the field. 

When we returned to the car, I put Toby inside and set up my camera.  It was still too early for northern lights, so I decided to capture the full moon behind the gnarly tree in the yard.

I didn't quite capture the images I wanted.  Too much of my photography is simply done by guessing.  I really should sign up for a course and learn how to actually use the digital camera.

Next I turned my attention to the stars.  Orion was putting in a good appearance to the south.

A little enhancing of the image on the computer brought out the stars (and trees) a little better.

I was hoping for a sky full of stars, like the sky back in the mountains.  I miss that sky, with its millions and millions of stars.  The sky out here at the farm house held no more stars than what I see from my hovel in the city.  Still, that is probably because of the full moon, whose beautiful light completely washed out the sky.

I stuck around for about an hour, but the wind was blowing mightily, and the dog was not happy sitting in the car and waiting.  The temp was dropping and since I have to be at work tomorrow, I decided to call it quits. 

If anyone sees the northern lights tonight, I hope photos are taken and shared!


  1. The moon and the stars! How lovely! Your camera captured their images very well. The only time I ever saw northern lights was when I was 15 years old and swimming at night in southern Michigan (Klinger Lake, near Sturgis). I had no idea what they were and I was terrified, thinking the world was coming to an end or something.

  2. i drove all the way up to the bridge, cloudy, so headed over toward the lake mich shoreline. We were about to give up and were in between ludington and muskegon. In my rearview mirror i thought i saw a flash in the sky, then over across to my left, but i was on 31, not like i could turn and look. So i asked my kids to look. a few minutes later one said OMG???? And the other said "mom? can rainbows come in the dark? But they were just seeing flashes, quick ones. Lastly the both gasped at the same time saying they saw a flash of what looked like a "melting rainbow"..ugggg...there was nowhere for me to pull over. Could they have been seeing northern lights? I am a professional photographer and came fully I am kind of bummed, lol

  3. Your photos are just lovely. I looked at the moon on the way in last night and thought about going out to photograph it...but it was warm inside and nasty cold out there so I thought the better of it. Sorry you missed the Northern Lights. I have been on the lookout for them all winter, but haven't seen any yet either.

  4. Woodswalker - just thing what our ancestors must've made of them! The stuff of the gods!

    KellyLynne - sure sounds like northern lights to me. The first time I saw them, when I was a kid, they were just white wisps - thought they were smoke or clouds. The last time I saw them, they simply washed the sky with a red glow - like the clouds reflecting the light from a massive forest fire. Saw green curtains just once, up in Alberta, about ten years ago - faint and fleeting.

    threecollie - the wind was pretty darn bitter here, too. I kept having to take my mitten off to adjust the camera, and my fingers were nearly numb! If the wind hadn't been blowing, it wouldn't have been too bad!

  5. The pictures of the moon and stars are beautiful. When I was a kid, we were still far enough out in the country so that the city lights didn't impinge, and my Dad got me out of bed one night to see the Northern Lights. Obviously, I never forgot it.

    Now, the city and suburbs have grown, and there is too much light here. I'm sorry you missed the lights, but slightly envious that you can get to a place where you could see them.

    Four acres sounds lovely. Just think of all the days and night you could spend discovering things on your own property.

  6. I missed that opportunity but took advantage of another. We had a 2 day heat wave (upper 40s - lower 50s about 2 hours north of Newcomb) and I went mushroom hunting. Found some velvet foot and orange jelly :)

    miss your adirondack discoveries

  7. Wiseacre - Thank you for your kind thoughts. But just wait until the weather gets nice and I start to discover Michigan! I've been hearing wonderful tales of wildflowers and wetlands...I am eager to explore!

  8. I grew up in Alberta. When I was ten, I woke very late one night. It was a very crisp, cold, clear prairie night. I fancied I saw a faint light playing on the curtains. I pulled them back, and what I saw made the hairs on my neck bristle. Waves and bands of transparent green, and sometimes red, ripling from one horizon to the other. I watched for hours. I remember them fading with sunrise. Now I live in Australia, so I hope to be able to see the southern display as well. Time for a trip to Tasmania.

  9. Wow, Sandpiper, what a gift! I saw some faint green curtains up in Alberta about ten years ago, too. The only green curtains I've seen; a completely different experience from the red-washed sky I saw in the Adirondacks. Now that I am further south than I was in the Adirondacks, I imagine my odds of seeing the aurora are now pretty slim. Still, hope springs eternal. I take it Tasmania gets lights in the sky? Aurora australis?