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Monday, April 28, 2008

Aurora Borealis

The Northern Light absolutely refused to show themselves to me when I was in Kotzebue for 4 nights. I looked every night and did not see a glimpse. I have only seen the aurora once here in Bethel and even then, it was just a weak white shadow dancing on the northern horizon. April is a pretty good month for aurora, so I thought sure I'd be able to see it in Kotzebue, but it eludes me still. Unfortunately, I can not take credit for the amazing picture above. I got that from a google search.

I frequently look at the aurora forecast website to find night when I should keep my eye to the night sky. You can look at the aurora forecast by clicking here. The forecast has levels 0-9. The highest I've ever seen it get is to level 5. You can see aurora from Bethel sometimes at level 4 low on the horizon, but the night I saw it was a level 5. You can see from the forecast pictures below that Bethel is poorly placed for aurora viewing. We are off in just about the only part of the state where the aurora is not frequently visible. Go figure.

So, in the pictures below (taken from the aurora website). They dark green band is the place where you can see intense aurora directly above you in the sky. The farther out you get from that the farther toward the horizon and less intense the lights are. The single line represents the farthest out the aurora can be seen low on the horizon, but it rarely makes it that far. Even Anchorage gets a better view of aurora than Bethel, but they probably cant see it very well due to all the light pollution.

Minimum...level 0

Quiet...level 1
Low...level 2
Moderate...level 3
Active...level 4
High...level 5
High...Level 5 North America forecast...
About the level that I can see aurora in Bethel, is about when it can be seen in the lower 48 too!

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