2020 Northern Lights Calendar – February Photo

February Calendar Photo

The February image was photographed over Lake Superior on October 7, 2015 at 6:33 AM from the mouth of the Hurricane River while I was camping at the Hurricane River Campground in Picture Rocks National Lakeshore.

I spent a couple days at Pictured Rocks that year and this is one of my favorite paid, drive up campgrounds in the state. Maybe my favorite. I even joke with my kids that site #10 in the lower campground is “my” campsite. 🙂 Although I do like to camp for free on National Forest and State Forest land and sometimes hike in more often than not.

The day before I hiked the Chapel Loop in Pictured Rocks. I think it’s one of the top three hikes in Michigan and you should check it out if you have not hiked it yourself. The trail runs along the tallest sandstone cliffs in the park during the lakeshore section of the hike. Its about 10 miles long and people who have never been to the Lakeshore can’t seem to believe it’s in Michigan. Check out this PHOTO of Grand Portal Point along the hike.

Info hereMap here

I think I need to write about this hike and photography along the way some day..

So needless to say I was quite tired, but I was camping on lake superior and that always means a possibility of being up late into the night and early morning photographing the northern lights.

I’d like to say I was prepared, knowing about the predicted favorable aurora forecast, but I don’t remember doing so. I was still new to the whole night sky photography thing and I more or less just checked every cloud free night to see if the aurora was visible.

My camp was already set up from the day before, so I returned from my hike, made some dinner, photographed the sunset and then relaxed a bit until it was dark enough to see the lights and photograph them. Looking back through the photos the first shot I took was about 9:00 PM. Turns out the Aurora would be active all night long.

Hurricane River Sunset
First image around 9:00 PM. You can see the start of the aurora activity, the milky way and some airglow.

The image I chose for February was at shot at dawn. The sun would rise a little more than an hour after the photo was taken. So you see the warm orange glow of dawn on the bottom right of the photo. Clouds came and went through the night and I was glad to have some in the early morning as I love the texture they create with the aurora back lighting them. Also the moon was still out and setting so you can see a bit of moonlight hitting the sand in the bottom right of the photo as well.

It turns out the aurora activity would only grow stronger as the day went on with a G3 geomagnetic storm was hitting earth. But more on this when I post about the March photograph, stay tuned! 🙂

Aurora behind the clouds.

Exposure data: ISO 2000, 20 seconds at F/2.8. Using a Nikon D600, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 17mm. My focus point on this lens is over the right side of the infinity symbol ∞ < on the lens at 17mm. Its closer to the center of the symbol if I shoot at 35mm.

If memory serves me, I didn’t take notes, I used 20 seconds to have a bit of “wispy” movement in the clouds. At the same time being careful not to have too long of a shutter speed otherwise you would start to see “star trails” and not points of light. You can read a more detailed description of this here “How to Avoid Star Trails by Following the 500 Rule”

Self portrait with my red headlamp watching the aurora grow.

If you want to see the scientific data on that day go to this link – October 7, 2015 aurora.

There was a G3 geomagnetic storm starting to hit earth with Kp numbers climbing as the night went on, into the early morning and the next day.

The Kp Index numbers are not the only info to look at on aurora forecast, however it’s a good place to start. You can find more info on Kp numbers here. KP Info Here.

Here is a link to the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What are the northern lights?

People ask is this what lights look like with the naked eye? The short answer is no. It has to do with how human eyes see at night, basically in black and white and not very well. More info here.

You can order a calendar HERE

Have you seen the northern lights?

Thanks for stopping by.

Bryan