Aurora from Mount Walker
Olympic National Forest, WA
Copyright 2003-2019 by Michael L. Anderson

date found:
October 2003
Rapid Omega 6 x 7
Kodak Portra 800
recommended enlargement size:
5 x 7 inches

I heard about a record-size solar flare blasting toward earth, and that night when I took a peek I found swaths of crimson directly overhead. It was so unexpected I thought for a while it must have been a lingering sunset, but when I could see closer to the horizon I saw green dancing there, and knew it was for real. The display quickly abated and I went in, but the next day I learned that it came back around 3 AM. That's when a neighbor shot a photo that made front page of the local newspaper.

Naturally, I wanted my own photo, so when I learned that another record-size flare was heading toward Earth, I went to Mount Walker just south of Quilcene, the nearest high point with a clear, dark view of the north. It was well below freezing and breezy at the top, and for over an hour I waited, hoping to see something beyond the thin, high clouds that were forming to the north. As they grew I finally realized that the clouds were the aurora, and when they waxed brighter I took several exposures at f/5.6, 20 to 40 seconds each. All were underexposed and very grainy, but useable.

The city lights in the distance, from left to right, are Port Townsend, Chimacum, and Port Ludlow.