View Full Version : One Fantastic Aurora, 2003/11/20-21

Dave Mitsky
2003-Nov-22, 11:16 PM
My friend and observing partner Tony Donnangelo and I witnessed a superb aurora on Thursday night from a dark site in the Tuscarora State Forest in central Pennsylvania near Mifflintown.

It was one of the most unusual displays that either of us had ever seen. There were some curtains and rays but the most striking features were the large patches that would appear and disappear in almost every part of the sky, somewhat like the display last month and the one in April of 2000. At times there were extremely bright patches in the east, the south, and the west. The northern sky was completely washed out by auroral activity.

The aurora became visible at 22:47 UT (5:47 p.m. EST) and persisted (in the north) until the wee hours of the morning, waxing and waning in intensity. By 22:58 it extended to the zenith. The aurora encircled the horizon and was very bright in the east in another three minutes time. Around 23:25 there were two bright patches in the southwest and west and a pink swath rose from the horizon to Capricornus. About 25 minutes later I noticed a faint ray in the south that extended from the horizon to the west of Mars. There was also a large pink ray-like swath that slanted southward from the west at an angle of about 30 degrees and reached an altitude of approximately 45 degrees above the horizon. Around 23:55 a series of 3 or more rays appeared to the east of Mars shortly after a brilliant Iridium flare occurred in the same vicinity. By 00:27 much of the activity had abated but there were still patches in the southwest and northwest. The northern sky was still aglow. Activity increased in the north a number of hours later but I was taking a much needed nap and missed most of it.

In terms of color we noted pinks, greens, blues, and whites.

I shot almost two rolls of film with my Pentax K1000 SLR during the display. With any luck I'll have some fine photos of the event.

Dave Mitsky

2003-Nov-23, 02:04 AM
Congrats - I envy you... post a link to the photos when they're ready :D