Over the winter of 2020-2021, I worked at a remote lodge 35 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in the small, isolated community of Bettles, Alaska. Located in the normally dry and clear interior of Alaska, Bettles is ideally situated under the typical arc of the Northern Lights, or, the Aurora Borealis. On any mostly clear to clear night, from late-August to early-April (when the skies get dark enough to see aurora), the vigilant observer will be treated to some degree of a show.
Though scientists who study the aurora can make forecasts and predictions about when and where auroral activity will occur, much remains unpredictable and mysterious for the aurora chaser. Each night puts on a different show. On some nights, thin distinct bands of aurora will linger in the sky for hours; on other nights, bursts of intense waves, greens and purples, will wriggle and twist their way across the sky in just a matter of minutes. Clouds or a full moon make the aurora appear vastly different than on a clear moonless night. Whatever the conditions, when the aurora do appear overhead, the viewer is guaranteed an excellent show unlike any other.
The following images and time-lapse videos I captured in and around Bettles, in the winter of 2020-2021.
An auroral forecast, along with an FAQ section about the science of the aurora, can be found at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute website.
Second batch of time-lapse videos. Enjoy!
Sunrise at Norway House Cabin, Camp Widjiwagan, Ely Minnesota. March 2018.
Clouds along the Lake Superior shoreline, Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota. May 2018.
Circumpolar star trails with tree in focus in foreground, stars out of focus. Video fades to white as night turns into dawn. Ely, Minnesota. April 2018.
Northern Lights dancing near Ely, Minnesota. April 2018.
Flowing water in mud puddle from spring meltwater. Ely, Minnesota. March 2018.
Calgary, Alberta skyline transitioning from dawn to morning. April 2018.
Calgary, Alberta city skyline at night. April 2018.
Traffic on Calgary’s Reconciliation Bridge. April 2018.
Another angle of the Reconciliation Bridge crossing the Bow River. April 2018.