Click-bait headlines about solar minimum: Despite countless click-bait headlines boasting that we are at solar minimum and that it is a bad time to come and see the aurora, the start to the 2019-2020 aurora season has been incredible. Here’s the proof with our top pictures so far this year.
You would not believe it if you didn’t know. We are not even halfway through Senja’s aurora-watching season and yet our hard drives are overflowing with gorgeous northern lights pictures. At 60 days into the season, we already totaled a whopping 45 days with aurora at the observatory. Now at the end of November, we scored a staggering 68% success rate. That means that the aurora was visible 68 nights out of a hundred, which is quite a big number by any aurora destination standard.
All displays were not as strong and there is a part of truth in the fact that we are admittedly at solar minimum. That means that the number of big solar events giving the big aurora shows with vibrant colors back on Earth is quite low. However that doesn’t mean they won’t be seen either. As a matter of fact, the aurora borealis observatory has not missed a big aurora spectacle this year. Since those geomagnetic storms are here to stay for a few days, we always got lucky enough to witness crazy lights one of the days. So all the click-bait content is understandable for us – look at these images:
To emphasize the mind-boggling width of such shows, our resident photographer Adrien was always ready with his camera in portrait mode oriented towards the west or the East. And sure enough he was able to freeze the aurora when it got at its brightest and most colorful. To achieve such exposures you need to know where the aurora and your camera really well. As the aurora moves extremely fast, Adrien used a 1-second shutter speed in order to really get the best detail.
September 27th 2019: The way this one started was very evocative. As soon as it gets dark, we knew we were in for a special night. Already at 6pm, as the sky was still very bright, the aurora exploded over our heads for an early show. Usually the sky takes some hours to give another show, but the aurora just kept on displaying its dancing pillars all over the sky.
October 7th 2019: This display really came out of nowhere. We were about 5 days after a major solar storm but the ‘equinox’ effect and the orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field compared to the IMF’s favors bigger aurora displays. All our guests were just mesmerized to see so much pink in the aurora that night!
October 26th 2019: That coronal hole from September 27th rotated back and produced another excellent show back on Earth precisely a month later. The show was made of huge pillars dancing above our guests who just could not get enough of it!
October 27th 2019: The following day was even better. We thought that most of the storm had passed but in reality we were to see the best of it yet. To the point where it is safe to say it was actually the most colorful aurora we had had in months over the ABO! Just look at this monster! Composed of the usual green and pink on the left-hand side, it also displayed unusual deep purples and reds on top, which is the sign of extreme auroral activity.
November 19th 2019: That night was the perfect example that even little input from the Sun can give a quick but bright and powerful show. It had snowed like crazy for the past three weeks and the full moon was high the sky when a huge corona appeared above our heads like a huge vortex engulfing us.
November 23rd 2019: Our most recent display yet. It is the same coronal that produced a G-class storm from September 27th and October 27th . Only this time it didn’t quite reach storming levels, but it was still enough to give a big show at our latitudes! Adrien drove down to the river to capture the explosion over the still flowing water! So all the Click-Bait headlines about the worst season ever, etc – Well, fake news again.