Aurora Watch

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Getting into night photography, something easily done in our Canadian winter, I wanted to capture photo’s of the Milky Way all the time having something in the foreground of the photo to give scale and perspective.  I viewed many of the how to’s on Youtube and listened to how others have done this. It is a bit of a challenge to be sure.  Equipment is a factor to be sure.  But, nailing that one great shot is what we’re all after.

I signed up with the University of Alberta’s Aurora Watch web site so I would receive all the notices about the best times Northern Lights would be in our area.  I also visited the dark sky’s web sites to learn where our city’s light pollution would not affect the photo attempt.  The Matthews Crossing Wildlife Natural Area is in the dark sky area.  Others had commented about the Elk Island area East of Edmonton as being in the dark area, but according to the map it was not.  So I headed to the Magnolia Area and the Matthews Crossing Wildlife Natural Area.

Arriving at the chosen location, the first thing I noted was the lack of cellphone coverage which was a concern at these temperatures.  So I decided to make a small relocate to the Magnolia Bridge area.  This would provide the all important perspective or scale feature to the photo over just stars.  Under the bridge it was minus twenty one degrees.  While looking for a location to work from at this spot, along came a Canadian National freight train.  More perspective, with colour on the bridge!

Moving quickly in the cold I was able to capture two shots before deciding to relocate.  The first is of the train on the bridge and the forest lit up by its headlights.  The second is looking back towards Edmonton, showing the light pollution is still readily visible at this distance.

The Northern Lights alert I received, which was supposed to have indicated this was “the” night for great aurora shots.  Nope.  Nada!  You could see there were Northern Lights about the area, but they were so dispersed in the area I was in, nothing great was captured.  Changing locations did nothing of the effort.  I ended the night around two AM.

Enjoy (or not) the two photo’s I did capture.

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