Aurora Photos from Goochland County, Virginia

November 7, 2004

Photos Copyright 2004 William T. Hark

Click on the small image for a larger version.

There was an extreme geomagnetic storm triggered by a solar flare that struck the Earth about 5PM on November 7, 2004. Aurora or northern lights were visible as far south as Florida. The photos in this series were taken between 10:45PM and 11:30PM November 7 in eastern Goochland county along Route 250 looking north. I used a 20 year old Nikon FG with Fuji 800 and 1600 speed film, a zoom at 28mm (f3.5). Exposure times are bracketed between 10 and 30 seconds.

This display caught me by surprise as I was expecting a minor solar storm with aurora only visible far to the north. I was checking e-mail about 9:30PM and decided to check the "Spaceweather" website. There was an alert for a geomagnetic storm in progress. All the indices were off the chart. I grabbed my gear, picked up my girlfriend Ginny and we blasted west from Richmond into Goochland County. Since the storm had been raging for several hours, I was concerned it would subside. We could see a whitish green arc to the north and a dull reddish glow above it at about 10:30PM. We waited. At times, large meteors were visible especially to the south. The arc became brighter and raised off the horizon forming a folding or curtain-like pattern. The red area intensified. Soon, whitish translucent columns formed and vanished. Some extended to almost overhead. At times, the northern sky was covered with regular whitish vertical lines against a ghostly pale background. The lights were shimmering and shifting, vanishing and reappearing. By 11:30PM, the red area became extremely bright before starting to fade. We left as the aurora became a dull pale arc with reddish glow above it. This was an absolutely amazing display.

See Space Weather for updates on solar flares, comets and other space phenomena. For updated auroral activity every five minutes, go to the STD Aurora Monitor .

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