This is where I live…

aurora, aurora borealis, northern lights, night sky, long exposure, astrophotography, Nikon Canada, gravel road, prairie, landscape, Dan Jurak, rural, autumn, road,

Last night I got home at 2:00 am and out of habit woke up at 6:00 am. Part of getting up early was the dogs fault. He had to go outside and do his business. Back to bed for an hour trying to get some more sleep with no result and up at 7:00 am. Sleep is overrated. LOL

All of us take for granted where we live. Wherever it might be there are opportunities unique to you and those around you.

I grew up seeing the northern lights in the summer and also in the winter when playing outside. At this latitude during the shortest days of the year the sun sets shortly after 4:00 pm. so there is ample opportunity to see the night sky.

Everyone can see the aurora borealis, or so I thought. It turns out that only under the most exceptional circumstances can people near the middle latitudes see it. Last night might have been one of those nights. The lights were so powerful that instead of only seeing them on the northern horizon they were overhead and far to the south. Surely those in the northern states could see them.

Last night was the perfect storm so to speak. With a very strong CME or coronal mass ejection a few days ago and it being close to the solstice when for some reason the aurora are more easily triggered and a forecast for clear skies for most of Alberta it was smart to head out.

I left the house at 9:00 pm with only the faintest glow on the western horizon. Soon it was completely dark and as I drove north I kept glancing skyward for any hint of the northern lights. Thirty minutes later the Rav was parked on a gravel road and the waves of green began slowly at first and then the whole sky was awash in colour.  With the moon behind me and low to the horizon the perfect balance was struck between overly bright and too dark. There was just enough moonlight to provide illumination to the countryside.

Fifteen minutes later the first burst had subsided and I continued north to a small lake where I was hoping the lights would reappear and I could get the aurora with a reflection in the water. Arriving at the lake twenty five minutes later I was disappointed to see plenty of low clouds obscuring the horizon. Meh, I thought, I got some great shots already, time to head home.

Three times on the way home the skies lit up and I turned the vehicle around heading northward again oblivious to how late it was getting.

At times like this it helps to be familiar with where you are driving because now that the moon was very, very low the surroundings were almost black. On my way to a pair of grain silos the sky AGAIN exploded so I pulled over and took photos like a madman. Pictures all around me. Directly overhead. To the north and also looking south.

The photo at the top of this post is looking south. The light you see on the horizon is where I live. Edmonton. A city of around one million people. Thirty minutes away from a million people and all alone with thousands of stars sparkling overhead and wash after wash of green combing across the sky.

Wherever you live, you are also bless. Sometimes all that we need to do is open our eyes to see what is special around us.

Happy shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on September 28, 2017.

4 Responses to “This is where I live…”

  1. This was last night? Oh man, I live in Edmonton and have never seen the Northern lights!

  2. This was last night about thirty minutes north of Edmonton and it was one of the most powerful displays I have ever seen. I know that it could be seen in Edmonton because I saw a photo taken from downtown last night with the aurora overhead.

  3. We did indeed see them down here in the northern US! Not overhead like up there (so beautiful!), but it was pretty spectacular for this area, especially since I was still in a heavily light polluted area. I’ll be posting some of my photos on Monday.

  4. Hi Seattle, glad that you were able to see them. This was one of the best displays of the year.

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