Camera: Nikon D200 with Nikon 24-85 zoom lens.
Shot details: F/2.8; focal length 24mm; ISO 800; 30 second exposure.
Location: Kelling Heath, Norfolk, Monday, 26th September 2011.
The images have had the levels cropped to remove unwanted info and a small curve adjustment to darken the sky.
As usual, a considerable number of C.P.A.C. members went up to Kelling Heath close to the North Norfolk coast a few miles West of Cromer for the annual Equinox Star Party. The early evening of Monday 26th September was cloudy and not looking too promising from the astronomer’s point of view. However, shortly after 10pm the skies cleared and we started getting telescopes and cameras ready. Suddenly C.P.A.C. member Ron Mansfield realised that, while our backs had been turned and we were concentrating on removing the cover from the club’s 16-inch Dobsonian, a brilliant and very active aurora had been going on. Bright and active aurorae are not everyday events as far South as Kelling Heath and are even rarer from area around Southend-on-sea in Essex, where the club members live. Needless to say, we all felt considerable excitement at the magnificent, spectacular and ethereal sight that met our eyes across much of the Northern sky. We quickly set about alerting others in our vicinity, one of whom was Roy Rookes, who was well prepared for photography. Roy takes up the story saying:
"I was working on setting up my Watec astro-video camera on my telescope when Ron came over saying, "Look up to your right Roy. Aurora!"
"As I looked up I saw a long column of light going from horizon to zenith. I left my scope and ran through my tent to see more clearly. On looking up I saw a bright horizon and a glow above. I rushed back into my tent and got my tripod and camera. Luckily I have a quick release system on all my equipment so I unclipped my Astrotrac and clipped on my camera and changed the lens.
"I set up facing North and tried a 30 second exposure. Peter Carson joined me and we both waited to see what would come out. When the shutter closed, I set the camera to review and looked at the image and I couldn’t believe what I saw.
"I went on to take some 60 images over about an hour and Peter got his camera out and also took several images.We could see green on the horizon and red above with the naked eye, but no detail."