aurora borealis
March 23, 2011 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Time lapse video of an aurora borealis, by Terje Sorgjerd.
posted by Pants! (16 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Beautiful images. Had they picked better music they wouldn't have had to speed it up so much, but I can understand that they were worried people would stop watching.
posted by Elmore at 12:26 PM on March 23, 2011


Just watched it muted and it still feels way too fast. But still astoundingly beautiful. I guess beauty is fleeting.
posted by Elmore at 12:28 PM on March 23, 2011


Electromagnetic energy in all its forms is all around us, all the time -- the aurora is remarkable precisely because it's one of the rare situations in which we can actually watch it manifest before our own eyes, rather than be forced to trust the readings of equipment more sensitive than flesh. Our evolution never had any reason to give us the power to see radio waves, or feel the pull of agonic lines, but if you go deep enough into the cold, you can still catch a glimpse.
posted by theodolite at 12:41 PM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


SO beautiful. I was especially impressed by the slow (really slow) dolly, and the shot where the aurora started up behind sparse cloud cover. I would have also preferred it to be slower, but that's okay.

Does anyone know if it's actually that bright, or are you getting a long-exposure effect like in astro photos?

Also, in Connie Willis's wonderful time travel books, I always pictured the net as a gold-colored aurora at ground level, so that's what this reminds me of.
posted by you're a kitty! at 12:45 PM on March 23, 2011


Does anyone know if it's actually that bright, or are you getting a long-exposure effect like in astro photos?

I've seen it, late summer with a little midnight sun lingering in south western horizon so it was only dark directly overhead and to the north. Yes, it was that bright.
posted by philip-random at 1:03 PM on March 23, 2011


Does anyone know if it's actually that bright, or are you getting a long-exposure effect like in astro photos?

If the rest of the sky is dark, yes. I went to Finkrokken (top end of Norway) about a month ago in the hope of seeing the lights and, with my normal brilliant approach to forward planning, booked the week of the full moon. Oops.

When the moon was up, the lights were visible as distinct but very pale arcs of mist, almost like arcs of high, thin, pale, slightly greenish cloud. When the moon was below the horizon, sharply defined bright green arcs and swirls were visible against the sky. Maybe a bit less saturated and lower contrast than in the video, but not by too much.

On our spectacularly lucky night -- no cloud, moon below the horizon and the earth getting hit by the wash of the biggest solar flare for many years -- we got to see bright, high-contrast arcs of green and purple writhing across the sky at the speed of the sped-up green lights in the video. I got one photo of that display (nothing like the quality of the linked video, of course), but was really too busy jumping around, whooping and hugging my travelling buddies.

That was possibly the closest thing an atheist scientist can have to a religious experience, seeing power on that scale produce a thing of such awesome beauty. That and, on a previous night, I saw what I'm pretty sure was the ISS flying through a green arc of the aurora. Feckin' awesome.

Yes, I'm bragging. But you know you would too...
posted by metaBugs at 1:14 PM on March 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Man, too bad they cut away from the super slow dolly shot at the beginning of the video - it's wonderful.
posted by Bron-Y-Aur at 1:35 PM on March 23, 2011


Beautiful! But I don't like the music. Silence would be better!

I've found another great time lapse video. A silent one. Watch the stars above Bonaire.
posted by Waslijn at 1:48 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I caught some good ones in Alaska years ago. it's beyond powerful to watch these lights in the sky, it evoked in me some sort of primal wonder that bordered on distant fear, as if God were displaying it's peacock feathers in order to impress. Truly psychedelic and dreamlike.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:07 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you for posting this. So beautiful.
posted by theora55 at 2:28 PM on March 23, 2011


That was possibly the closest thing an atheist scientist can have to a religious experience, seeing power on that scale produce a thing of such awesome beauty.

It is beautiful, but understanding the science, I was left with the understanding of why people ignorant of science felt the need to create sky people.
posted by three blind mice at 2:53 PM on March 23, 2011


FYI, if you'd prefer silence to the music in this video, your dream could become a reality with the use of the "mute" button. I'm available on an hourly basis for consulting if you'd like help using it.
posted by jewzilla at 4:00 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up in a dark, northerly place with a lot of aurora action. I swear I actually heard them during one particularly vivid display. Now, I'm pretty damn sure there wasn't actually any physical sound energy, but it was extremely convincing and caught me totally off guard. Sounded like whispery sizzling.

Haven't seen them in quite some time now. Thanks for the vid.

Oh, and for those asking, my experience is that the aurora isn't *quite* so intensely brilliant/constrasty/dynamic to the eye as you see in the movie, but quite nearly. The effect is one of photographic intensification; imagine how the Grand Canyon might look in this kind of treatment vs how you experience it. In reality, there's a kind of liquid blackness mixed in with the iridescence. Kind of hard to explain. Think Boards of Canada.
posted by Casimir at 5:17 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


gorgeous. I look forward to going there in a week or so. thank you for the video.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:10 PM on March 23, 2011


Beautiful. Is there a time of year when you'd have the best chance of seeing the aurora borealis? Seems like a new moon would be a help, but does the season matter?
posted by willnot at 9:02 AM on March 24, 2011


Wow, the HD was just gorgeous. Thanks for the link.
posted by puddinghead at 11:53 AM on March 24, 2011


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