Northern Lights 2023
All Photographs © Brian A. Morganti
East Central Pennsylvania - Northern Berks County
April night of 23-24, 2023
A strong geomagnetic storm occurred on the night of April 23-24 that sparked displays that were visible as far south as Texas and Arizona in North America. The solar storm first peaked during the daylight hours on Sunday the 23rd. Then a second wave of energy hit between about 11pm on the 23rd and 1:30am on the 24th. The Kp Index registered about 7 for my area in Pennsylvania, however the Ovation Model was registering over 200GW at times! Anything over 100GW is considered to be a very significant geomagnetic storm! It was during this time that I was fortunate to have crystal clear skies with a setting crescent moon.
I took over 200 images with my new Canon R6 Mark II mounted with a Canon RF15-28mm f2.8L wide angle lens. The display was very active at times so I chose short exposures of 2 to 8 seconds at ISO 2500 to 6400! Definitely the best display I had photographed since two solar cycles ago in 2003 and 2004! All images are looking north towards the Blue Mountain Ridge from the countryside of northern Berks County, about 20 miles northwest of Reading, Pennsylvania.
The few images below are some of the better ones and are presented in the order they were taken.
2230z: One of the first images taken. The display was rather weak at this point and invisible to the eye.
2256z: This is a three shot panoramic image taken just at the moon was setting (Venus can be seen shining brightly below the moon). The green glow near the horizon is now more pronounced than in the previous photo.
0004z: We are now a little past midnight and the green glow has moved higher on the horizon and some faint pillars are becoming visible.
0007z: A wider angle view taken a few minutes later at ISO 2500 begins to show some structure within the green and red aurora.
0010z: This is where I started to take shorter exposures (2 seconds at ISO 6400) so as to not blur the structure in the pillars too much. Notice we now have multiple colors reaching skyward above the green glow, which has also moved higher above the horizon
0012z: Although taken only 2 minutes later, notice how dramatically the pattern has changed! A 4 second shot taken at ISO 6400. These changes occur quickly, thus the need to take many images virtually back to back so as to not miss anything during an active display.
0029z: I waited a little longer before I took this image, but now wonder what I might have missed during my pause.
0039z: Another 10 minutes had passed when I noticed some brief flashes higher in the sky. I took a series of rapid exposures and captured a brief green curtain that is visible in the upper right corner of the photo.
0043z: This was the first image I processes and was simply picked at random. I liked the way a nice set of pillars seemed to be emanating from behind the tree. This one was featured in our local newspaper the following day.
0044z: Although similar to the previous photo, notice how far to the left (west) the pillars had shifted in less than a minute! In hindsight this would have been a decent display to have created a time-lapse video segment.
0108z: One of the last photos I took as the display was beginning to wind down. Notice there are still some faint pillars on the left of the photo as well as an ill-defined green curtain remnant above the leftmost pillar. The display rapidly faded shortly after this photo was taken.