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Aurora, Alta (Norway), December 20th

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Out on a 6Hr 'Hunting the Northern Lights' trip with GLØD Explorer, 60 or so Km away from our base in Alta.

Not as cold as we were expecting - or as much snow (which meant less cloudy skies). Also coincided with a G1/G2 magnetic storm hitting the Earth that increased the activity - very lucky!

Witnessed around 10 auroral displays over the 4 days we were up in the Arctic Circle, 3 of which were magnificent!

Got a lot of shots to go through and will perhaps make up some presentation for my local astronomy group....

We started out from Alta with thick cloud (and light snow falling). Our guide Sara drove south in the 4x4 and eventually we found some clearing skies. A hint of the aurora followed  (so I took some constellation shots whilst waiting for the sky to clear). The aurora did put on a weak display that slowly grew stonger. Once it had started to fade we headed back.... within 5 minutes of doing so we could see activity rising - Sara pulled the mini bus over, we all jumped out (cameras still attached to tripods thankfully) and were just in time to catch this mesmerising 10 minute display (the shot below is from near the start!

In this wide field image you can find the Hyades, Pleiades, Open Cluster - Melotte 20 in Perseus (above centre), to the right of that the Double Cluster and below that and a little to the right (obscured by the aurora somewhat) M31, The Andromeda Galaxy plus the Milky Way sticking out from the right edge of the aurora to the edge of the frame...

The bright-ish star a third of the way along from the upper left is Capella in Auriga - a quick scan around that region yields the three open clusters. If you follow them out towards the left of the frame.... that faint smudge is M35 at the foot of Gemini!

Manfrotto tripod mounted with hydrostatic ball head (trusty 8 year old, full frame 12Mp) Nikon D3 and the superb Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm. Perhaps time for the upgrade before the next trip - D810 currently the top choice....

This gives a field of view of approx: 114° - 84°, so at the angle I'm shooting at, this shot reaches up to near zenith.

ISO 800, 15 sec, Mirror up function with cable release. NEF RAW file (lightly) processed in Adobe LightRoom.



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