Nov 30: finally aurora and “Battery Exhausted” at -13F

Monday night around 8pm I headed to pick up a friend in North Pole, which was under a stinky cloudy of wood burning stoves’ smoke haze that made me cough and curse about air quality, and then we went to Chena Lakes to hopefully shoot some aurora. We had been skunked in our effects to chase the lights the past couple of times we had gone, so even though the forecast data was not great the aurora had shown up the night before with equally poor data data so I was hopeful for even just a small showing.

I had my new fisheye lens, plus my regular wide angle, my new hot pink and black Baffins and some new gloves as well so I thought I was set to go! However, the Universe had other plans for me and decided to test me with technical issues, warmth and personal comfort issues, and a very, very minor scare with my car in an unplowed lot in our second location.

The night started well. We were the only ones at the River Park area. My super heavy duty jacket zipped the first try, which is always a bonus; it’s a really warm jacket but the zipper can be really tricky! I put hand warmers in my new gloves which also had built in finger gloves inside the same pocket the hand warmer went into, plus a zipper on the outside for easy access to get fingers out and warmers in. I got my camera set up on the tripod and I had two relatively new and fully charged batteries with me so I was ready to shoot. The lights were not dancing yet and after about 30 minutes of looking at what was “just a green band” of very faint light, since it was colder than -10 we decided to sit in the car for a bit to get out of the extreme cold while we waited for the aurora to pick up. After a while I noticed a light in the rear view mirror, which turned out to be the moon reflecting against some clouds and snow. We got out to start shooting and before I could take any photos my camera flashed the “Battery Exhausted” at me after being out in the cold for just a couple hours. No worries, I figured it was actually frozen more than depleted, so I put it in my pocket and swapped it out for a warm battery.

I ended up trading out my fisheye lens for my standard wide-angle 12mm lens and took some more shots. The aurora danced a bit, nothing spectacular, but it was nice to get out and see the lady dance. We decided to leave around 11:30 since it looked like it had quieted and was not going to pick up and don’t you know it, as soon as we almost got back to my friend’s house she noticed the aurora had picked up again so we decided to head over to an area that overlooks the Upper Chena River. I pulled into the lot and though the entry was hard packed, it was apparent that the lot had not been recently plowed so we didn’t pull in too far since my car does not have a very tall clearance. We got ourselves set back up just in time for it to finish the dance and then packed up again to head home. It was dark and I got a little turned around and ended up pulling into the lot even deeper than I planned so there was some minor panic while I rocked my car back and forth and finally got unstuck from the deep snow.

By the time I got home, it was after 1am. I finished drinking my tea I had packed for the adventure and crawled into bed, but I was colder than I thought and forgot to turn on my side of the heated mattress pad so I shivered for about an hour before I finally got up and turned it on to get some good sleep.

Sony a6000, 8mm Rokinon fisheye / 12mm Rokinon



Fisheye view. Sony a6000, 8mm Rokinon fisheye Chena Lakes


Faint aurora with moonrise. Sony a6000, 8mm Rokinon fisheye Chena Lakes


Aurora arc. Sony a6000, 8mm Rokinon fisheye Chena Lakes


It’s interesting how much the fisheye flattens an arc when the camera angle is changed. Sony a6000, 8mm Rokinon fisheye Chena Lakes


One end of the arc…. Sony a6000, 12mm Rokinon Chena Lakes


Faint rippling on the other end of the arc. Sony a6000, 12mm Rokinon Chena Lakes


Ripples…. Sony a6000, 12mm Rokinon Chena Lakes


Fuzzy aurora over the river. Sony a6000, 12mm Rokinon Chena River


Bright moon at midnight. Sony a6000, 12mm Rokinon Chena River


My awesome new Baffins. Toasty feet for me!


New mittens with built-in fingered gloves. I really like that you can put the hand warmers into the zipper pockets on the outside, but I had some dexterity issues getting the fingered gloves in and out of the mitten for taking pictures.

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