March 17 2013
A strong CME left the sun 2 days prior aimed directly at the earth.  Something big was going to happen
as this one was traveling at 2 million miles per hour.  But the question was when exactly would it hit.  I
had gone out to shoot
photos of comet Pan STARRS earlier in the evening thinking the CME would hit
around midnight.  After shooting the comet, I went home and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Was
this going to be another over-hyped potential event or had  the CME become full halo and completely
gone around the earth?  About 1am local time I tapped out  and headed to bed...but not before setting
my alarm for a little bit before 3am to check things.  I figured if it did hit late, I would be seeing the
sunrise on St. Patrick's Day.  When the alarm went off, I went and checked the parameters and sure
enough the CME made initial impact while I was sleeping.  It was time to go.  I already had one of my
favorite aurora viewing spots picked out.  As soon as I got north out of town, I could see the faint glow
of the green ribbon above the horizon in front of me.  The spot I was heading to is about 30 minutes
from my home.  When I was about 2/3 of the way there, it became evident something big was coming
in.  Pillars began to quickly form, die off , them rebound even stronger.  Here is what happened:
KABOOM!   No sooner than I got set up and the auroras went bonkers!  No tinting in Lightroom or Photoshop here
folks.  The red and pinks were SO bright it changed the color of the snow!  Keep in mind the images on here from this
event were shot at 11mm.  It was breathtaking.  I never tire of seeing the beauty on this planet God unleashes from
time to time.  About this time I made a call to
Lorraine Mahoney and Brad Goddard who were camped out in far
northeastern Wisconsin.  Same report over there.  This was going to be a spectacular show.  Check out
Dirk Miller's
also from Wisconsin near Rice Lake!
Melinda accuses of me of being a "delete freak".  I can shoot 200 images of something and I might keep 2 or 3.  This
time I can honestly say I have about 180 keepers from this event.  So instead of rambling on about the night, I'll let the
images speak for this G1/G2 magnetic storm.  While only considered to be moderate in nature, it sure put a match to the
fuel.
Me cheering on the auroras. I do it to pay homage to my pal, Mike Hollingshead, who took THIS SHOT back in 2004.  It
has become kind of a tradition ever since.  Check out some more of Mike's work at
www.extremeinstability.com
How fitting this show would go out with a bang as the sun starts to rise in the east bringing viewing to a premature end.  I
had been out there for over three hours in sub-zero weather enjoying what easily is in my top 4 aurora events ever when
Mother Nature and the guy upstairs threw me a bone.  A meteor streaking through the sky perfectly centered in the
shot.  Doesn't get any better.  As the sun rose I could still easily see auroras off to my northwest in the semi-dark skies
yet.  I was tired, cold, and very thankful for what I had just seen!
Here is a short timelapse video I made out of 140 still using the interval timer on the D300 from 5:08am until the sun
came up.