Aurora Borealis and White Dome Geyser of Yellowstone


After a full autumn day of driving, walking, 'chasing color' with a good friend, I journeyed to a favorite Yellowstone geyser and just sat still for a while.  I knew a full moon would be lighting the scene and a recent Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from an Earth-facing sunspot might even produce an Aurora.  Would it reach latitudes as far down as Montana and Wyoming?   Would the clouds be too thick?  The moon too bright?  I set up the cameras, dusted frost off the lenses, checked that the settings were correct and the batteries charged…And time seemed to slow down...  This capture of the pinnacle height of the Aurora and geyser's eruption is an exposure blend of two shots made in the middle of more than seventy consecutive 30-second exposures.  

(Image to come: Seventy consecutive exposures producing a Polaris circle of star trails.  Really cool!)  I watched the night sky for about three hours before the clouds rolled in to stay. 
During that time cars drove by without stopping, their headlights briefly overexposing the night.  Low clouds appeared, and the lower stars started fading  because the full moon was rising.  Bull elks bugled and coyotes cheered.   The main show was about to begin.  Minutes passed. 

The clouds continued sliding from one horizon to the next.  I could barely see the brightest stars.  Hours passed.    Maybe that was it?
I began thinking, what a good show it was, The movement of the thin moving clouds, the peeking stars, erupting geyser, the full moon, and the illuminated landscape.  THAT's when I noticed the cloud on the horizon was actually a faint yellow/green.  Had I missed that earlier?  Then I saw another....and another.  

The landscape became brighter and the geyser turned white in the moonlight.  When I looked, really looked, I could see the stars were peeking out from behind thinning clouds.   Higher vertical bands of yellow were overhead and reds seemed to be dancing from east to west… Silently, quickly, up and down, bright and dim, right to left.  I could hardly pull myself away to turn on the cameras.  

One of the best parts of capturing Night Sky Landscapes is making the deliberate effort to listen...  
And the scene seems always to be saying, Slow down, relax ...I have something to show, if you honor me with your patience.” 


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