Sunday, February 19, 2012

Aurora and afternoon time lapse

I started the afternoon driving around aimlessly looking for a place to test out my new intervalometer, so I can start time lapsing like an adult. I wound up driving to a new addition to the Mendota Hills wind farm, about 20 minutes away from DeKalb. The hard part about time lapsing with wind turbines is that it's hard to get the blades to not look ridiculous turning and twitching at weird rates. Since this is a new addition the turbines aren't active yet so they just glide in the wind. Unfortunately even with a specific times interval between shots they still managed to turn and glide at random intervals stopping and starting again.

At they very least it was cool to see the dramatic directional shear in the atmosphere that afternoon as the low level clouds streamed out of the northeast, with upper level clouds shooting from west to east.

Later that evening while hanging with some friends I happened to check facebook and see that Chris Allington was reporting visible aurora down to the Nebraska and South Dakota border. Up here in northern Illinois that isn't a whole lot further north. Actually now that I finally look at a map, that's pretty dead on as far as latitude is concerned. You see, this is exactly why I can't bring myself to give up facebook. I go through spurts of being tired of it and think that I don't actually need it, and should get rid of it altogether. But for random updates of cool things in the sky that I wouldn't otherwise be aware of at times like this, I just can't do it. You know what's even funnier about last night, is that I woke up in a really weird mood yesterday that I could only describe as violently strong cabin fever. I woke up and immediately needed to leave the house and this area altogether. I began brain storming where within a couple of hours driving I could go that would be a change of scenery. Around here, a couple hours of driving will generally put you somewhere that looks just like the place that you started out. I tossed around driving to Starved Rock and doing some time lapse down there... then I was very close to driving up to the cabin in Wisconsin and visiting the lake and just doing night time lapses up there. Had I done that I would have been in great position, and already been photographing when the aurora display appeared. Ah well.

By the time I was alerted, grabbed the cameras and headed back out, the display was down to a faint green band on the horizon.

Funny story while out waiting on the aurora to potentially flare back up by myself. I generally don't spook at all even while out in the middle of the night by myself. I'm not sure if I'm just used to it or not. Either way, I get out of my car and the power lines are making this eerie buzzing noise. I shrugged it off and got the camera out and started shooting anyway. Then I heard two packs of coyotes start yelping on either side of me, and then the farm dog that is barking at the farm about half a mile up the road starts growling and snarling as if spooked/attacked. I paused for a moment to listen to my surroundings, but ultimately decided to hold my ground and continue shooting. Anyway, I just figure if that didn't send me running back to the car then I'm pretty sure not a lot will.

Of course once I start heading off from that spot, what is obviously a local county deputy pulled in behind me and quickly pulled me over. I didn't have my wallet on me because I had run out of the house so quickly to take photos, and when I told him that he replied with "take photos??". I told him that yes, the aurora was visible earlier and that my camera was in my backseat if he wanted to check. What was funny was immediately after that he asked if I was going to school for meteorology here. Not entirely sure how he gathered that up.

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