Aurora Fizzled but was not a Total Loss


Last night I traveled up to Crater Lake National Park with photography buddy's; Joe Spendolini, Joe's Grandson Russel, Jason McMurry, and my Wife Crystal. We went up to the national park with the intent of capturing the Northern Lights.

Courtesy NOAA Spaceweather Prediction Center

Two days earlier, a large CME burst from a sun spot on our Solar System's sun. This blast of charged solar particles was on a collision with the earth. When these particles hit the earths magnetosphere, they react and create the phenomenon knows at the Aurora Borealis (in the Northern Hemisphere) and Aurora Australis (in the Southern Hemisphere).

While waiting for the sky to darken, we setup east of the historic Crater Lake Lodge on the Garfield Peak Trail for sunset. It was a beautiful summer evening with a chill in the air, the mosquitoes were a biting, but people were relaxing, and camera shutters were clicking.

The sun set through a bank of particulate, most likely smoke from a Northern California wildfire. The golden hour was not too special this night, but blue hour proved to have a different result. The stars and planets were just beginning to show and airplane lights could be seen traversing the overhead. As the sky become darker the lodge lit up and came to life. 

Summer Nights, Crater Lake National Park, OR -

Summer Nights, Crater Lake National Park, OR -

As sunset progressed we became more aware that aurora activity was becoming more and more unlikely.  We learned that the major solar impact happened as expected and it was a beauty. Unfortunately for us in the Pacific Northwest of the USA it happened about 12 hours earlier, when the sun was in full blast.  Which means, for us it was a dud. However, there is never a bad night at Crater Lake. 

That is when we turned our cameras from shooting north to shooting south and capturing the Milky Way over the caldera instead. 

I ventured to one of my favorite location in the park, the lone whitebark tree. As previously released in, Whitebark and the Wizard. Knowing there was quite a bit of traffic and people in the park also hoping for the aurora, I understood there was an opportunity to capture unique lighting on the rim from automotive headlights. On this artwork, Light the Way, automotive headlamps illuminate particulate over the caldera rim and appear to be illuminating the Milky Way. 

Light the Way, Crater Lake National Park, OR -

Light the Way, Crater Lake National Park, OR -

As with many adventures, there is a lesson to be had here.

Adventure with a plan, but be flexible, because even though you have an idea of what you want, Mother Nature has a different plan for you. So be adaptable, you never know where the night might lead. 


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Click on an image below to purchase a fine art print from this adventure.

Summer Nights
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Light the Way
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