I have prepared a short aurora timelapse video, this time from Cradle Mountain. The footage is from the night of Saturday November 15, 2014 and the images were captured right smack bang in the middle of the 7 day Cradle Mountain and Freycinet photography workshop which I run with Michael Snedic each November. This means that on my last two photography workshops at Cradle Mountain (the prievious one being September 22-24) we have captured the aurora!
Creating an aurora timelapse
Creating a timelapse involves taking photographs at a very regular interval so that the stars rotate at an even pace. I used interval shooting here, taking 1 x 15 second exposure every 18 seconds for approximately 45 minutes. Given that it was a workshop my attention was more on making sure everyone was shooting OK so the interval shoot mode allowed me to catch these images while attending to the group! Gotta love technology
Predicting the Aurora
The aurora is very fickle, but there a certain signs to watch for in predicting its appearance. On the evening of the 15th I noticed in the late afternoon that the “Bz” was negative, and had consistently been negative for most of the day. The Bz is the direction of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF). Bottom line is, if the Bz is negative, the chance of seeing an aurora becomes better even if the solar wind speed and other factors are not necessarily great. And the longer the Bz remains in the negatives, the more likely a geomagnetic storm is to build up and give us a display. So I alerted the group at dinner that it might be worth sticking around after the sunset shoot – and let me tell you everyone’s excitement at photographing the aurora was a very special moment!
There are plenty of apps for your phone which alert you to solar flares and data such as the direction of the IMF. Aurora Forecast and Solaris Alpha are two very useful ones.
Keep an eye on my Tours & Workshops page for upcoming workshops – I will always keep an eye on the aurora data while a workshop is in progress!