Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Auroras


Tis the season, season for what you may ask. The season for the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights. Seems the magnetic field between the Sun's solar winds that cause the Auroras and the Earth's magnetic field are oriented perfectly in spring and fall more so then summer and winter.





What causes an aurora? Basically the Sun sends out hot plasma and charged particles into space, deadly radiation to human life, this is called the Solar wind. When the Solar wind gets to Earth, the Earth's Magnetosphere forces the Solar wind harmlessly around us and out into space. Some of the Solar wind however gets through and is trapped in the Magnetosphere and the Earth's upper atmosphere where it's charged particles collide with the oxygen and nitrogen particles of our atmosphere, the spent energy of the collision is turned into light energy, the greens and the reds we see are called the Auroras. They come and go before you know it. The closer you are to the poles the brighter they are but in high solar activity the Northern lights have been spotted as far south as Southern California. Look to the North in the Northern Hemisphere or South in the Southern Hemisphere on any particular night, if there has been heavy Solar activity chances are during the spring and fall seasons you'll see them, they spread out from the west to east. I just happened to be taking a picture of earthshine on the Moon and noticed they were starting to form, only lasted for a few hours, got a few pics and hope to get more through the spring.



A couple of updates for you. Kaguya the Japanese Lunar Orbiter has released more HD images of the Moon as well as some HD movies. Also, and I have discussed this previously here, the complete lunar photographic record, that is the original filght films from the Apollo project are being duplicated with high resolution scans and are releasing new scans on a daily basis here.


The above image is the hires scan of the week for the Apollo scan project, it is an image of the Apollo 17 landing site taken in 1972, this scan was released March 4th. The Kaguya image, ( top lunar image) was also of the Apollo 17 landing site, taken November 19/2007 released March 6th.

I would like to leave you now with one of my Aurora images as an animated gif.

40 comments:

Max said...

Hey Bob,

I must congratulate you for this marvellous aurora photos: they seem so mystical :D! I didn't remember how they were formed (I learned it too many years ago, back in school), so reading about it was an amazing learning experience.
It is incredible how God made things, isn't it? He even managed to create a magnetosphere that protects us from solar winds...I have a question: what do you think it is the purpose of solar winds (since I believe there is a reason/purpose for everything)? The question may sound silly, but I am not a science person, I confess...

These moon scans are amazing! Why are we so obsessed by the moon? I mean it apparently doesn't have anything yet we feel drawn to it...interesting!

Your gif aurora is gorgeous; loved it :D! It feels like inviting our loved one and watch while cuddling...magical :D!

Cheers

Susanne49 said...

Hi Bob,

I wish to see that once in my life! Now I envy you to live up there in the North! :-)

Great, interesting post. I learn so much every time I'm here.

Swubird said...

Great post, Bob. I didn't know that you could see the Northern Lights from southern California. Learn something new every day.

Fantastic shots of the moon. These lenses and photo technology are really getting sophisticated.

Hey, the lights make a perfect eater GIF. Good going.

Happy trails.

kml said...

Hi Bob - I have always wanted to see them in person. I guess we are not far enough north. Your photos are great - can't wait to see more of them!

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Magnificent, Bob. The weatherman said the Northern Lights were spotted here but I missed them. How beautiful!!!

The moon images are great too.

Did you hear of a strange light sighting in Canada a couple of days ago? It may have been Ontario. I didn't quite catch it.

Hugs, JJ

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Max, thanks, happy you loved the pics and gif.

It is amazing what God has created, the solar wind is a necessary evil byproduct of the production of heat that the Sun provides us to make life work. Of course God knew this would happen and gave the Earth it's magnetosphere to protect us from it.

The Moon just has something so appealing, to me anyways, I think it's the mystery and beauty of the Moon that draws me to it.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Susanne, glad you learn a little here. Susanne the Auroras are just amazing to view live, especially when they are dancing.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird, actually the auroras have been seen down by Palomar Observatory, pretty cool. all depends on the strength of the Solar wind at the time.

For sure, the imaging technology has grown by leaps and bounds the last few years.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Kathy, they are an amazing thing to see in person, I will definitely post more pics when I get them.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, too bad you missed them, they are a very fast changing phenomenon, have to be at the right place at the right time, look to the north every night just after dark for the next few weeks good chance you'll catch them.

Haven't heard of any strange lights, if you find out anymore about them let me know, that would be great.

The Fool said...

I do have to say you are quite lucky to be able to see the auroras, down where I live they are naught to be seen. And thanks for the info about the moon pictures, there are some really good ones there.

The Fool

Rose said...

It looks somewhat haunting. As mat pointed out very mystical.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks the fool, too bad you can't see them, they are really something to view in person, I will try to get some more, really like the red auroras.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Rose, they do don't they, when they start "dancing" it is a sight to behold.

Sherer said...

Great pictures as always! I have a movie recommendation: The Dark Side of the Moon. Not particularly about astronomy, but it captures the creativity of the human spirit all while displaying the inspiring awe of the universe.

Also: Any way I could get your feed to MyYahoo?

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks sherer, glad you like the pics, I will have to check out that movie, boy I wish I could help you out, don't know anything about feeds, or how to get them, I'm going to have to look into that.

joderebe said...

Nice shots Bob! Are the shots timed exposures? I haven't seen the Aurora's yet. They haven't made their presence here.
As usual another informative and excellent post. Another beautiful GIF as well....you must have alot of flood waters as the snow melts LOL
~JD

Oswegan said...

Those are really cool. I like how green they are.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Hey, Bob. I'm still trying to track down those lights. I saw the light on the news an it was huge. Wish I would have paid more attention to where it was in Canada.

Hugs, JJ

shirley said...

Wow... what a nifty new look! I just love your new template!

The auroras are cool! I saw one - a nice big one - last year right here in missouri. It was only the 2nd one I'd ever seen in person.

zunnur said...

Hi Bob,
Great pictures! Never knew or heard about this phenomena until I read this post.
Btw, nice template.

Peter said...

Hi! Congratulations on the new design. It's pretty far out and cool looking I must say.

As for the Apollo 17 landing sites, that's exactly what I was hoping to see. So thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Now, if only we could see the remains of this great adventure. It would certainly be a sight for sore eyes!

Regards,
Peter

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JD, the image is a 30 second exposure at an ISO of 3200, Auroras are hard to image, from what I've been told, this is my first one, hopefully get more the next few weeks.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks oswegan, hope to get some red ones too eventually.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey JJ thanks for looking, I can't seem to find out about them anywhere.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Shirley, I'm happy for you that you were able to see them, they are very cool.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Zunnur, glad you like the new look, well now you know about the auroras too, cool.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Peter, glad you like the new look and the Apollo shots, the Apollo missions are NASA at it's very best.

Anna said...

Oh Bob, what don't you have around you, lol. These are cool. I saw some very light here in Aurora one day. The gif image is really cool. BTW I forgot to tell you that I have brightview wide screen laptop and your blog looks really cool in that format, so shiny. Thanks for all the info on Aurora. Anna :)

Livingsword said...

Hi Bob;

Very nice Aurora shots, a sight I never get tiered of seeing, photos no matter how good just can’t capture how amazing it is…. However your images are very good…

The lunar images are very interesting but they lack Spacing Bobisms, that indefinable quality that can raise a space image from good to excellent….

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Anna, thanks, glad you like the auroras, glad also the blog looks good on your laptop. I have a 17" widescreen and it looks very , like you said shiny

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks livingsword, the Auroras are something aren't they, and your right, it is one of those things you really have to see in person, for sure, pictures can't do them justice.

Lol Spacing Bobisms, love it, your too kind.

Ruth said...

Lovely aurora, which I only saw once in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. One good reason to live in Canada!

Nature is beautiful.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Ruth, the Auroras are beautiful for sure, and we are lucky up here, we get them quite often.

Max-e said...

Bob those pictures of the aurora are amazing. It is something I would love to see in real life. I guess that is one of the compensations you have for having to endure your cold winters.

I did not realise that the Japanese were also into space exploration.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks max-e, the auroras are kind of a little perk for all the cold weather we put up with, the Japanese have the most ambitious lunar program since the Apollo missions, go figure.

Pat Kashtock said...

Your site is beautiful.
Thank you for your lovely comment about what we have been graciously granted.

Peace

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