“Spirits in the Sky” – One Last Look at the Amazing Aurora Display of June 1st 2013

All aurora nights start with the same intention.

“Oh I’ll just get out for an hour and be in bed by midnight…”

Somehow I keep getting caught up taking in the celestial displays and end up staying out for much later than that.

Some shows warrant not going back to bed at all. The night that ended the month May and kicked off June was one of those nights. The aurora danced for hours, filling up most of the Banff National Park sky at times, and often with a fantastic array of color. The only reason I went to bed was that night was that eventually the sun rose and washed out the spectacle. We all wished the darkness would never end.

Many folks were caught by surprise since the display did not get much hype prior to happening (unlike some previous CME events that were the rage on the major news networks). Much of western Canada was also blanketed in clouds, so many decided not to take their chances.

As for me, I went out, for “an hour”, to Herbert Lake when I saw that the Bz was wayyyy south and that skies were unexpectedly clearing to the north. There was a spot on the lakeshore that I had noticed days prior as a wonderful place for aurora photography.

It was not even dark yet when the show started. Great waves of green and purple pillars. I took a few quick photographs but promptly realized that much of the display was actually happening behind me, to the south! I immediately packed up my gear (you never know how long those events last) and made my way to the other side of the lake to shoot the classic Lake Louise Group composition, as well as some fabulous coronas directly overhead. It was a magical start to the night.

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The next while was spent trying to escape a thick fog. I eventually succeeded in doing that just before arriving back in Banff, where I resumed my viewing/shooting at Vermilion Lakes.

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I finished the night at Cascade Meadows, where the aurora shone through the half moon and until daylight eventually took over. Without a doubt one of my most memorable nights out in the mountains. Great to see many others out there enjoying the stunning skies. That last image is actually from the following night, which also put on a fine (but brief)display. Fingers crossed for more activity soon!

Thanks for reading/looking!

Paul

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If you liked these photos, check out Summits & Starlight: The Canadian Rockies, a new book by Paul Zizka.