Monday, November 1, 2010

Murphy Dome


Last weekend Lee, Alex and I went up to Murphy Dome, which we've been told is a great place to watch aurora, because a geomagnetic storm was predicted. We got there a bit after sunset, which meant it was still quite bright to the west, and Denali was visible on the horizon:

Denali in twilight

It was a full moon, so the moon rose right around sunset, into a layer of clouds which made a very well defined 22ยบ halo. There is a military radar site on top of Murphy Dome, and I framed the radar site inside the moon halo:

Moon halo

That was, incidentally, the first real picture I've taken with the wide angle lens.
Turns out the aurora didn't put on much of a show that night. The magnetic storm prediction was off. It did show up for about 15 minutes, and must have been pretty bright to still be visible through the clouds and moonlight. I was shooting a dim green aurora stream going into the moon halo when I happened to catch a purple meteor fireball as well. 3 phenomena in one picture!

Moon halo, aurora stream, and meteor

I shot a few of the aurora and the Big Dipper using a small tree as a foreground object, one of which I really liked (see above). We wandered around in the snow for a while, which was already a foot deep in places up there. The full moon reflects off the snow well enough that you can see clearly as if it were daytime. Fairbanks could be seen in the distance:

Fairbanks from Murphy Dome

And that's pretty much that.