The aurora was beginning to bask in direct sunlight from the approaching dawn and had been transformed into the most beautiful blue/purple light. This was only the second time I have ever seen this beautiful coloring vividly.
The color is the result of a process known as resonance scattering whereby already ionized molocules of nitrogen gas in the upper atmosphere are exposed to direct sunlight. They actually capture photons of light in the blue and violet end of the spectrum and then re-release them creating the beautiful hues. This reaction takes place from about 100 miles or less up into space as high as 600 or 800 miles. Most of the time this emission is very faint to our eyes and to see it visually is a very rare treat indeed.
I used a 6x9 cm. home-built medium format camera equipped with a 50mm lens and Kodak E100G film to record the phenomenon.
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