A Different Kind of Chase: May 10 Southern New York and May 12 Airplane Aurorae

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Over the last month or so I’ve been fortunate enough to experience mother nature in all shapes and sizes; the solar eclipse in totality in upstate New York, an earthquake in Manhattan, high-end tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa, and the solar eclipse of a lifetime in both southern New York State and over the North Atlantic in an airplane.

May 10 near New Paltz, NY

While we knew a once in a lifetime aurora was possible on May 10, the weather was not cooperating in the northeast US. Clouds pushing in from both the west and east made aurora viewing in the Hudson valley quite difficult. Undeterred, we headed north from Jersey to our lake house near Albany, eyes on IR satellite hoping for some breaks in the clouds. We were more than rewarded near New Paltz, NY with both a beautiful pillar display and an auroral corona!

Some beautiful pillars in New Paltz, NY
Not every day you see an Auroral Corona in Southern NY!

May 12 over the North Atlantic en route to London

My work requires fairly frequent flights to London — a trip I view primarily as a means by which to see the aurora even on less active solar storm days. As a policy, I always book a seat on the north-facing side of the plane just in case. While the altitude, latitude and obvious lack of light pollution have given me a couple of cool lights shows in the past, nothing would prepare me for what I’d see on my flight on May 12. Needless to say, I didn’t get much (any) sleep on this flight.

The lights begin to show themselves; 3 second exposure.
A 10 second exposure starts to bring out some stars
Some unfortunate glare here but the colors are spectacular
The sun begins to rise beneath the lights
Sunrise continues and the show begins to taper off

Community Comments

Those are some beautiful pictures you got! Nice view!

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