Aurora Fizzled but was not a Total Loss

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.

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).

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Mother Nature puts on a Good Show

Mother Nature puts on a Good Show

A large solar storm hit the earth over Memorial Day weekend. Causing a massive amount of auroral lights at the poles. This storm was so strong and happened during a night where there was no moon light, that aurora was seen throughout much of North America. Dark sky locations around Portland, Seattle, and Yellowstone NP. All reported seeing the northern lights. During the peak of this solar storm it registered a 7.67 on the Kp scale

Hoping to catch the heart of the storm before it was over, I ventured up to Discovery Point at Crater Lake National Park (map) where I have captured the northern lights several times over the past decade.

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Night Views on the Palisades

Night Views on the Palisades

During the summer of 2016. My family and I got to go on several adventures.  One of those excursions led us to the north side of the Crater Lake Caldera on a dark night. We found a location to stop and setup shop near an area known as the Palisades (A cliff face rock formation on the north side of the lake).

While setup at this location, we watch commercial airliners, satellites, shooting stars and more streak across the sky.  This is not uncommon for many night sky adventures.  However, one flying object did catch our attention on this night, a fire spotter plane.  

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Night on the Bybee Fire

Night on the Bybee Fire

In late July 2017 a fire began to grow inside Crater Lake National Park. The fire originated near the junction of the Lightning Springs Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.  Many speculate that it was a careless PCT hiker that caused the fire but the official cause has never been released.

For weeks the west side of Rim Drive was closed to prevent people from accessing the area near the fire.  A times the fire entered the caldera rim.

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Through the Trees

Through the Trees

It was a chilly late summer evening when Crater Lake was completely clouded in and any Celestial photography from the rim was not going to happen.  An aurora was even predicted to appear, but mother nature had other plans up on the caldera.

Disappointed but not deterred, I began my decent down the mountain. In to Munson Valley where the park headquarters are located.  A half mile off the rim the skies cleared. I stopped in an automotive pullout and took a test shot.  The Milky Way was glowing like I had never seen before. I knew this location would be special.  I set my gear and waited as the camera captured over 150 images of the night sky.

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Sinnott Aurora

Sinnott Aurora

It was a warm afternoon in August when I received a warning about a potential aurora in Southern Oregon, that night.  With this information, I searched my map of vistas to see what location would work best to photograph the Northern Lights.

According to that map, the Sinnott Memorial Overlook inside the caldera of Crater Lake National Park would be a great choice.

Arriving at the location before sunset, I set up my gear. On this night I used two cameras, one that I was manually controlling with each shot.  The other was setup capturing a night sky timelapse.  

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