We drove all over Antrim and Charlevoix counties yesterday, taking in the fall color. But as I was catching up on work last night, the aurora kicked up. Now, a light show is preempting the vibrant autumn scenery I had planned on sharing.
Since last night was a full moon (click for an awesome moon photo that I did not take), I didn’t have high hopes when the alert indicated we’d have a shot at seeing the aurora. Nonetheless, at 10:40pm, we turned off the lights, and I hopped upstairs to snap a shot looking north out our bedroom window. I set the camera up on my trusty not-tripod: a copy of The Frontiersmen and a silicone pot holder to prevent slipping. It wasn’t particularly impressive (my “tripod” set-up or the picture – your choice), but you could see some color – which was impressive considering how the moon was lighting up the neighborhood.
At about 11:00, the activity kicked up a bit, and Tony suggested we skip over to Torch Lake. I heartily agreed. Donning my puffy down ski coat and knit hat (hey – it was near freezing, and while I like playing in the cold, I don’t like to be cold), we drove to the south end of the lake. A light fog drifted across the still water, and fresh mint perfumed the air.
After a few shots, I recommended that we aim for a spot that’s a little more open. We settled on the Lake Skegemog overlook on M-72 at Hill Road. Better, but it was loud (okay, if you live in any kind of populated area, you should scoff at this assertion – there were a few cars, and the sound carried easily on the clear air), so we left for a view I discovered the other morning while running.
I took picture after picture, frustrated that the moon was obscuring the aurora, but delighted that it was also highlighting the autumn reds and oranges in the nearby trees and shrubs. For the most part, the aurora looked mostly like a faint smudge of lightness swiped across the sky, near the horizon. After I’d captured a few pictures, we returned home.
Because I am an infamous goal-post mover, I went directly upstairs, and repositioned the camera out our window. Just to see. This is why I am a goal-post mover: The light got stronger, and became more ephemeral. I shouted for Tony to join me, and I promise you I clapped a few times and hopped around giddily, because even without the 30-second exposure, you could see the green and red in the aurora. Curtains of light pulsing in the absolute stillness is utterly mesmerizing – and a bit eery.