Thursday, September 22, 2011

Autumn Aurora

September has been a great month for the northern lights display.  Soon after darkness fell back in the northern sky, the aurora began appearing in the Interior of Alaska.  I've already seen the great aurora several nights in last few weeks.  As I understand it, when the sun's activity is high, it releases solar flares that impact with the atmosphere.  During those times, magnificent northern lights dance across the sky. 
The best part of viewing the northern lights at this time of the year is the weather is still mild.  It has been in the 30s - 50s; warm enough to be outdoors.  I dress with a light jacket and regular hiking boots unlike wearing a big heavy coat with layers inside, ski pants, and bunny boots at -20 degrees.  Waiting to see the aurora outside is much easier and more fun before serious winter arrives.
It was the night before the Harvest Moon, I was heading to a small lake where I planned to set up my camera.  The northern lights were already stretched across the zenith.  A nearly full moon lit up the trail all way to the lake.  The moonlight was incredibly bright; I didn't even need to use my flashlight on the trail through a birch forest!  Those autumn birch were glowing in orange- gold under the moonlight.

It was about 30 degrees, a bit of cold in the air.Mist drifted on the surface of the lake.The lake was still like a mirror, reflecting the autumn colored hill and stars.The whole surrounding was silent in this remote landscape.
I set up my camera and waited for awhile... the faint aurora was in the sky over the millions of stars...  After a while, more aurora showed up on the other side of the sky.  It was a faint white line in the beginning, then slowly brightened to neon green... then moving and waving into the horizon.  At one point, the pink/purple lights were blinking along with the main stream of neon green.  After the moving lights came down, faint green bands of lights appeared and stayed for a long time.  The fall-colored hillside was glowing under the bright moon.

It was peaceful...
surrounded by wooded hillsides
only the sounds of a creek...
under a clear sky with countless stars... 
The aurora was appearing and disappearing... 
I was alone in this silent dream.  That was one of the moments, I've felt closest to mother nature.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Autumn Falls on the Interior Alaska

In the 3rd week of August, some of the Birch leaves (Birch looks just like aspen) began turning yellow. Within a few days, the yellow color was spreading everywhere.  In the interior Alaska, the seasonal change comes very quickly!   It was only 3 months ago when fresh green over took the hillside; and while I was neglecting to upload new posts, the summer is already over!
 In early September, we are already in Autumn.  The surrounding mountains are covered with golden yellow leaves, and some of the small plants on the ground are turning to bright red.  Berries are ripe, the air is crisp, and there are many beautiful days in row!  Fall is another delightful season in Alaska.

The long daylight during summer gradually shortens...  Sunset is around 9pm at this time of the year;  We no longer have a "midnight sun."  The Northern lights have started dancing in the dark sky again...  Animals are urge to prepare for the coming winter...   Summer's ending is always sad.  At the same time, I'm excited as another Aurora season begins.
Here are some more fall colors images...