One of the shops in Talkeetna was a tiny gallery of photographs by Aurora Dora. Dora specializes in images of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. The northern lights are the effect of Sun Flares entering the atmosphere and igniting gases in the atmosphere. Different gases produce different colors and because they are basically exploding gas, the Northern Lights look like they are pulsing.
Dora has a board that lists the probability of seeing the Northern Lights on any particular night. On our last night to be in the area, the percentage was less than 20% and since it has been cloudy, I was not holding out much hope of getting to see them. First off you need clear skies. Then it’s better in the colder months and even though it was chilly during the night, the conditions were less than perfect. Oh, and another factor is that they show up at the peak of darkness which on August 28 would be between midnight and 4:00 am!
I had been up early for the sunrise and we had done some hiking and driving around, so sleep came easy. I am a good sleeper (part of the Gommel heredity!) but Sue finally was able to rouse me at about 1:20 am. She had awoken to see a beautiful clear night sky filled with an unbelievable number of stars and a band of light that at first looked just like a band of clouds. Luckily for me, she was able to get me up and I went out on our balcony to take a look. I thought it possible that it was the Northern Lights, so I got the camera and tripod to take a few exposures. The more I watched, the more the sky started to dance and I ended staying up until after 3:00 am.
The night sky was pretty amazing without the Northern Lights. I felt like I could just grab the big dipper!
The display was pulsing. It would just be a glowing band that looked like a strip of clouds and then it would start to shimmer and get bigger.
This is probably my favorite image. Not that it is the biggest display, but the colors and the night sky and stars being so clear and visible just make me like this one the best.
According to an App that one of the inn's guest had, this night would rate a 2 on a scale that rates the display from 0-9. Check out Aurora Dora's website to see some incredible images.