On July 12th, 2012 the sun unleashed an X-1 Class (X class flares are the strong type of flare) flare from sunspot AR1520. The sunspot was directly facing earth which meant that the CME that was associated with that flare was heading for earth. The CME was supposed to arrive in the early am hours on July 14, 2012.
After some discussion with another photographer we decided that we would head out to Matlock with a group of photographers from the Manitoba Foto Friends. We had another location selected at the beginning but that location had a tree line around the lake which won’t work well because if the auroras were low on the horizon we wouldn’t be able to see them. The geomagnetic storm was supposed to be a good one so we hoped for clear skies and a good show.
As expected the CME arrived in the AM hours of July 14th. At 9pm we were heading out to Matlock. We were lucky enough to have clear skies but we did have smoke from the forest fires to content with. When we arrived at the Matlock Beach is was smoky and windy which helps with the mosquitoes! We set up our cameras and waited for it to get dark and for the show to start.
At the beginning the northern lights were out but they weren’t very active.
Like clockwork around midnight (which is usually one of the best times to see them) they really started to dance. They got so bright that they lit up the beach!
I had shot the pier with the northern lights in June so I decided to look for different foregrounds. One of them was these wooden poles that were sticking up from the sand
I admit that I did take a couple of shots of the pier.
There is a small playground by the beach and I decided that the swing set would be an interesting foreground.
Around 1:30am most of the group had left and another photographer and I decided to check out Mustard Seed Church which is about a 5 min drive from the beach. It is a cute little white church that is surround by a cemetery that is still in use and is nicely maintained. We decided to set up and take some shots. The only problem with this location was that the mosquitoes were horrible! In between 2-2:30am the skies exploded again and the entire sky was green and bright which lit up the church and surrounding area nicely.
By the time we got home it was close to 4:30am and there was light visible on the horizon. The geomagnetic storm lasted an amazing 36 hours from July 14-16 and the northern lights were visible as far south as Wisconsin.
Another great night with a great group of people.