Over the past couple of years the sun has been in a solar minimum, a consequence of which has been auroras that are only rarely strong enough to be seen from Sitka. Combined with frequently cloudy skies, the northern lights have not been easy to observer around here for quite a while. A couple of days ago, I noticed the aurora forecast from the UAF Geophysical Institute was for active aurora (4 on a scale from 0 to 9), which meant there was a reasonable possibility that there would be some action in the northern skies.
Skies were clear and it was a moonless night, the satellite-based map of northern hemisphere aurora showed high aurora extending over Southeast Alaska, and I heard someone else had seen a burst of activity, so I checked a couple of times and at one point spent a half an hour watching. I never saw anything more than a pale green glow, mostly visible as a slight brightening of the sky behind Gavan Hill. A long camera exposure made the green of the aurora much more visible, though it also resulted in somewhat strange looking trees in shrubs in the foreground, as they were illuminated to varying degrees by neighborhood lights. Although not as dramatic as past shows I’ve seen here, it was nice to see the aurora again. It’s been over 2.5 years since the last time I photographed the northern lights, and I’m pretty sure that was the last time I saw them.