"Ion Butterfly" (full frame)
Captain Cook State Park, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
March 31, 2001
Fantastic colors were produced in a spectacular show that was visible on this night in many parts of the globe as far south as Mexico and Cuba. The eruption of a "super flare" on our sun sent a barrage of charged particles Earthward that resulted in the most intense shock-front ever recorded. The subsiquent geomagnetic storm and subsiquent auroral display was, for many, a once in a lifetime look at this beautiful natural phenomenon.
I had "watched" the aurora in progress on the internet as other parts of the world were bathed in darkness and waited for our turn in Alaska where it was still daylight. As it finally began to grow dark, the sky became cloudy and by 11:00 p.m. we were in a full-scale blizzard b ut I was determined not to miss out on the action.
Betting everything I had on a satellite picture and a radar image I felt that my only hope was to get through the blizzard and find the other side as quick as possible. I plunged into the arctic front and drove white-knuckled through the wind driven snow and near-zero visibility to emerge hours later to a broken sky.
At first all I could see were red holes in the clouds and a few stars but as I continued the whole sky opened up to the most amazing sight. It was the most beautifully colored aurora that I had ever seen!
There might have been a little more grey in my beard the next day but it was absolutely worth it!
I used a 6x6 medium-format camera with a 30mm lens and Kodak E100VS film to capture these incredible colors. This image shows the full frame of the film and is facing south. It covers the whole sky to the overhead crowning and beyond. The "Big Dipper is seen at top right with the bright star Arcturis near the center.
The full-frame image is availible in an 8x8 or 11x11 size and the vertical crop (same as thumbnail on previous page) is availible in the following sizes: 5x7, 6x9, 8x12