Tuesday, May 14, 2024

No aurora for me!

Late Friday night (May 10, 2024), my facebook feed blew up with various people reporting aurora borealis (Northern Light) sightings as far south as Arizona and southern California. It was overcast at home that night, and so I just looked out a north-facing window and saw nothing. Had I been less tired, maybe I would have driven up into the Angeles National Forest, but I was tired, and still a little skeptical. But the postings continued into the next day, and the possibility of more sightings the next day had me interested.

The next night, I was already planning to head to Joshua Tree National Park, to do some regular night sky viewing and maybe some astrophotography. Meanwhile, earlier on Friday, I discovered that Sky's the Limit was planning to do a dark sky observing event, so I contacted them and got approval to volunteer for that. Sky's the Limit is located directly on the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park, north of Twentynine Palms.

After the outreach event wrapped up (a success, of course!), I got my car packed up (around 11pm) and I headed into the park, trying to put some distance between me and Twentynight Palms. Folks, it was a complete zoo in the park on Saturday, which I suppose I should have expected. There were literal five minute long periods when a continuous line of cars would make it impossible to pull back into traffic. Cars were parked along the road and continually circling through parking areas. No way you could get dark adapted if you didn't walk some distance away from the roads and parking lots.

Aurora-wise, it was a washout. Even if there were faint lights to be seen, it would have been hard to see. The shots I posted were what I got, which was a lot of car head and tail lights, and no aurora. Only funny things photographed were artifacts from car lights, reflecting within my camera lens.

Reports from the Interweb confirmed that the aurora on Saturday night were a lot weaker than the ones on Friday night, and no significant sightings were posted for our vicinity.

On an unrelated note, a couple of other space-themed photographs from the past week. SpaceX launched another set of satellits out of Vandenburg, which was visible all over the southwest US. This was on May 9. Also on May 9, I photographed the two-day old crescent moon. I photographed the one-day old moon, the night before. That was the narrowest crescent I ever saw.

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