Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Colors

Winter at pole is without a doubt visually spectacular, but it does lack one thing: colors. Sure, there are red lights wandering about the landscape, and the auroras cast a pale green glow over the snow, but by and large color is something we don't get much of.

Last week, just before sunrise, all the lights at DSL were turned on (why, I'm not entirely sure). All that red was enough to make my eyes - and camera - see the stars as a lovely shade of electric blue, the first natural blue I've seen since... New Zealand, I suppose, back in January.
Beyond tricks of the eye, however, we've been getting some genuine color the past couple of days. The auroras have been remarkably bright lately, and have started to include the red and yellow fringes that only show up in the strongest storms.
Auroral activity is strongest at the equinoxes, which are sunrise and sunset here. Of course, once the sun is up (or close to up), the auroras are completely invisible, but for the next couple of weeks, we should get bright, colorful displays complementing the growing glow on the horizon. I haven't quite figured out how to photograph the really active ones yet, but I'll keep working on it.

On a sidenote, I should probably point out that, despite all my talk of how bright it is outside with the moon up (and it really does seem bright), the photos I've posted in the moonlight are kind of a cheat. They're all long exposures, much longer than the camera's light metering thinks is appropriate. The photo to the right is a more realistic portrayal of the lighting outside under a full moon - plenty to move around and operate by, but I wouldn't want to try reading anything in it.

From now until sunrise is probably the most colorful time of year at pole. Between the newly invigorated auroras and the ever-growing glow of sunlight, we should get the better part of a rainbow, and after months of black and white (ok, and green) existence, that'll be a pleasure.

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