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December 12, 2017 Auroral Glow

Chippewa National Forest

Solar wind conditions were looking pretty decent, and I had just been at a Mount Itasca board meeting, so I was really close to one of the easiest to reach aurora shooting spots.  Strangely, it was pretty busy there, with a fair number of people pulling in and out of the boat landing.  I could see a little bit of a glow to the north, so I decided to drive to a more remote location.

I stopped at Pughole Lake in the Chippewa National Forest and hung out for about an hour.  The glow continued, but I never saw a well-developed arc above the horizon, and there were some scattered clouds, so I drove back home.

When I got home, I decided to check the Churchill, Manitoba webcam.  It was brightly lit with dancing auroras!  I may have gone home a little too early.  Typically, auroras over Churchill might be visible poking out of the northern horizon from where I was shooting.  Our maximum line of sight distance to the typical base of the auroras (100 km altitude) would be about 150 miles south of Churchill, but the tops of the auroras would be anywhere from 300 km to 500 km above ground, so we would definitely see the tops.  This probably explains why I did not see the auroral arc, but rather, a glow that diminished above the horizon.

Nice Auroras
An auroral glow above Pughole Lake.

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