February 27, 2023

The Incredible Northern Lights: February 26-27, 2023

The post I wrote recently about viewing the northern lights turned out to be quite timely. The geomagnetic storm that was forecast last weekend produced a brilliant display of northern lights that started here in the Methow Valley of North Central Washington on Sunday, February 26th around 7pm, even before dark, and lasted all the way to sunrise! 

Throughout the evening the movement of pillars and shimmering curtains was easily visible to the naked eye. Then an hour or two before sunrise, the aurora peaked with towering light pillars moving slowly from west to east across the sky, most of which were photographing as brilliant reds and purples. It was certainly the most vibrant, colorful, long-lasting show I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t tear myself away and stayed up all night for 10+ hours of aurora awesomeness. I was pretty sure I came close to breaking my camera.

I posted photos online but I know not everyone uses social media these days so I wanted to share some of my favorite photos here because the range of colors was extraordinary! Unfortunately I don’t have a camera capable of a low enough f-stop to capture a video but over the course of the event I shot nearly 500 photos that I turned into a time-lapse, featured at the bottom of the post. I even caught some meteors! There truly is no more magical event in the universe than seeing the northern lights. What a show.

I hope everyone was able to step out and catch this magnificent event. If you didn’t, don’t despair. As I mentioned in my earlier article, the sun is approaching a solar maximum so there should be an increase in solar activity leading to more geomagnetic storms and hopefully more aurora over the next few years. If you’re interested in reading about the science behind the aurora, I highly recommend this article by Sky and Telescope. It’s a fascinating read! Enjoy the photos and keep an eye on the aurora forecast on SpaceWeatherLive. No doubt we’ll have plenty more shows in our future!

A time-lapse of the northern lights show over Twisp, Washington starting at 7pm February 26, 2023 until about 5:30am February 27, 2023. I used a series of nearly 500 photographs taken at regular intervals during the course of the event. It was truly spectacular, especially towards the end in the hours before sunrise.