My first September 2021 sightings

It's been a long summer without much auroral activity. At least, not much that I managed to witness. Sometimes late summer can be a great time to catch the lights. But this year, more often than not, either the cloud cover was too much or there just wasn't much going on up there. I've been eagerly watching the weather forecast and my various northern light aps to see if there would soon be a chance for a show, and finally last Wednesday night with favourable conditions in the forecast, we headed out for a little drive around 11 pm.

Sometimes the lights are bright enough to see from the backyard, but more often than not, you can't really tell how much is happening until you get far enough from the lights of town to get a really good look at the night sky. You know it's gonna be good when you pass under the last street light and immediately see something going on. As we drove to one of our favourite spots I watched out the windows and could already see the waves dancing. I knew it was going to be a good night.

We parked just a few minutes later and got out into the night, which was moonless and very dark, but also clear and peppered in stars. I quickly set up my camera and tripod and took a few trial shots, getting settings just right. It wasn't cold at all and the bugs are long gone so it was an entirely pleasant physical experience. I just took shot after shot as the lights came and went. At one point they had faded to a subtle glow and so I figured it might be fun to try another spot close by, so we packed up and headed to spot#2 where I was able to also get some shots reflected in the water. It wasn't the most exciting show I have ever seen, but it was nice after our long summer hiatus. As a bonus we decided to try one more spot right on the river at the float plane base and it might have been the best part of the show; I was able to capture several shots there as well.

All in all, we spent less than two hours and travelled less than 20 minutes out of town and I still managed to get enough photos that it took me all of the next morning to go through them all. Not all nights are like this. Sometimes the data is great and the sky is clear and we see nothing, sometimes the data is crap and we go anyway and have an amazing display. It's always a bit of a gamble, but it's always worth it in the end.

I especially love getting a reflection in whenever possible, and up here that's only something that can be accomplished a few months out of the year, so in autumn before things start to freeze I always try to look for spots where there is some water. Even a puddle will do. A large, flooded, marshy spot on the side of a back road displaying a bright green reflection was once one of the coolest shots I ever captured. Not only that, it's such an easy time of the year to spend time standing around for a couple of hours outdoors. The temperature is perfect, no worry of freezing your toes off, there are no bugs to deal with, it's a very peaceful, calming experience all around. Not to mention, awe inspiring no matter how many times it happens.

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