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Video: Dance of the Northern Lights

A quiet night for auroras at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada – located at at 58° North, under the auroral oval – is a spectacular auroral display for most of us.

Dance of the Northern Lights from Alan Dyer on Vimeo.

Canadian astrophotographer Alan Dyer of the website AmazingSky.com dropped us a note today (March 10, 2015) about his new 3-minute video of the dancing aurora borealis, or northern lights. It contains time-lapse footage, and still images, shot this February 12 to 21 from the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Alan wrote:

Churchill’s location at 58° North on the shore of Hudson Bay puts it directly under the main auroral oval, the zone of greatest auroral activity. Over the 9 nights, 2 were cloudy, with a roaring blizzard, but on the 8 clear nights we saw aurora every night. I shot time-lapses on 6 of those nights, shooting about 3500 frames, most of which appear in the final cut of this movie.

Despite the amazing displays we saw, on no night was the auroral activity index (on a scale of 0 to 9) higher than 2 or 3. These were all “normal” quiet nights for auroras in Churchill. Anyone farther south would have seen little in their sky on most of these nights.

I shot many of the time-lapses with an 8mm spherical fish-eye lens, to create sequences suitable for projection in digital planetarium domes. One other time-lapse sequence (the last in this movie) I shot with a 15mm full-frame fish-eye. Even it is not wide enough to take in the entire display when the Lights fill the sky.

Exposures were typically 10 to 15 seconds at f/3.5 and ISO 1600 to 4000, all with the Canon 6D. I powered it from its lone internal battery. Amazingly, despite temperatures that were considered extreme even for Churchill (often -32° C at night) the batteries lasted 90 to 150 minutes allowing me to take lots of frames with no battery change or perhaps just one battery change. Churchill is very dry and only on one night did I have an issue with the lens frosting up.

Music is by Dan Phillipson, his composition Into the Unknown, purchased for royalty-free use through Triple Scoop Music. I edited the movie in Apple Aperture, with a title sequence created in Photoshop. Processing of the original images was with Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, and LRTimelapse, with assembly of movie frames done with Sequence for MacOS.

Thank you for sharing, Alan!

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Bottom line: New video – titled Dance of the Northern Lights – from Canadian astrophotogrpher Alan Dyer. He shot the video at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada in February, 2015.

Deborah Byrd

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