Rare aurora near Earth’s North Pole

Auroras are common at high northern or southern latitudes, but very high latitude auroras are rare. A photographer calls this photo a “once-in-a-lifetime” catch.

View larger. | Aurora over Alert, Nunavut, Canada on January 12, 2016 by Kevin Rawlings.

View larger. | Aurora over Alert – the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, in the territory of Nunavut in Canada – on January 11, 2016. Photo by Kevin Rawlings.

Kevin Rawlings wrote:

Most people are surprised when I tell them that Alert – just 508 miles (817 km) south of the North Pole – is too far north for the northern lights. Usually, anyways. While being so close to the magnetic pole weakens the conditions that produce aurorae, they do happen on occasion, and this morning was one of those rare occasions.

On the walk out to the Global Atmosphere Watch Observatory here where I work, I spotted them glowing green in the southeastern sky above the Winchester Hills, making for a once-in-a-lifetime photo.

Nikon D750, 17mm @ f2.8, 15 second exposure, ISO 3200.

Processed using Rawtherapee.

Thank you, Kevin!

More photos at EarthSky by Kevin Rawlings: Moon and planets, Alert, Nunavut, Canada

Bottom line: Extremely close to Earth’s North Pole, the conditions that create auroras are weaker. Kevin Rawlings caught one on January 11, 2016.

Deborah Byrd