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Friday, February 22, 2008

Some Aurora blogging

Avid readers will know that when the sh*t hit the fan with the current funding crisis I was ensconced at the EISCAT site in Norway on campaign. You might recall that I complained about the weather. It was bloody awful in the latter half of the campaign, which is not great if you are using optical instruments to look at the aurora.

However, in the first week we did have some clear skies and I was able to do a little bit of photography. I had a new camera, a big Cannon EOS 400D to replace my trusty Cannon Powershot.

Sadly, I did not manage to get fully to grips with it before the rain came and so the photos are not as high quality as I might like. No matter, here are some:

Some nice aurora looking roughly south-west from the EISCAT mainland site in Norway.

You cannot see the really fine structure because I used a 20 second exposure.

The red glow over the mountain top is not auroral it is the lights from the city of Tromso, which is further round to the west, behind the mountains.

Now turning to look down the site road (more southward), we can see several arcs stretching across the sky.

Lights in the distance on the site road are from displays on new radar that has been installed on-site.

Thankfully there is no line-of-sight between our optical hut and the LEDs. Not sure why they are there really.

Here is the back of the great big VHF radar; size of a football pitch. It is being lit by the meagre light from the site.

No shots of the UHF dish this time. Well, no good shots anyway, I was experimenting with manual focusing at that time (I'm not very good with hands-on stuff, things just break usually) and it was not pretty.

Plus the time I did try and get shots of the UHF the VHF was running, which caused the outside light to come on. This meant that they tended to be a bit over-exposed.

With the weather turning bad I did not get much chance to rectify the situation.

[UPDATE I have been told that the images just look like big black squares and that I need to do some contrast stretching. What can I say, I posted this at 12:30 am and in a very dark office they looked great. I'll fix them when I have a chance]

[UPDATE 2 Right a bit of contrast fiddling and now you can see the wondrous view. Of course if you had just turned your lights off and closed the blinds you could have seen it anyway...]

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