This NASA photo of auroras around the North Pole is really fantastic. Wow, if we could see that! Thanks to chance encounter with fellow passenger Valerie who provided the reference for this photo. Thanks, Valerie! Anyway, we didn't get this great space based view, but did have a chance to finally get some more images of the aurora from our cruise ship.
|Image of auroras around the north pole (Courtesy: NASA)|
Ok, we have several images of the aurora to share. We are aboard the cruise ship, Viking Sea, currently moving from Iceland on route to Greenland, and beyond. The view from our stateroom veranda was actually a pretty good location to see the northern lights because the veranda was sort of protected from the wind and the outside lights were somewhat screened. Remember that all of these photos were taken with a DSLR using 10-second exposures with a 10 mm -18 mm wide angle lens. But since I didn't bring a computer or camera interface cable, all the photos remain on the DSLR until we return to the Observatory. But, I didn't want to wait until then so these images are IPhone photos taken of the camera Liveview screen.
This first image includes the Big Dipper, just below the white overexposed portion of the cover over our veranda. The stars are pretty dim in this view, but if you look closely you see how the stars move around due to ship motion and possible my own shaking hands. Remember that I initially tried to use the little tripod on the veranda table, but the table was so low to the deck that the safety rail was still right in the middle of the view. So, I just elected to hold the camera and brace myself so that the only movement was due to ship motion. This is possible without too much distortion since the lens used has focal length of 10 mm -18 mm, wide field of view.
|The Big Dipper and green aurora photographed on cruise ship between Iceland & Greenland (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
|Green aurora photographed on cruise ship between Iceland & Greenland (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
This photo is taken from the ship Explorer Lounge up on Deck 7. While I was taking this photo, many of the bar patrons, once they recognized the aurora was visible, came out and pointed at it and tried to grab the aurora. It is also interesting to note how bright the aurora is in this image. It seems that in this case the 10-second exposure is maybe just a bit too long.
|Aurora excites cruise ship Explorer Lounge patrons who try to grab the aurora (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
Hopefully, more aurora observation opportunities will be available in the remaining cruise. Also, once we get back to the observatory, we can download the DSLR images and maybe get better aurora detail.
Finally, as we begin the slow passage to our next stop in Greenland, the coast of Greenland is so beautiful and there are some glaciers and melting ice along the way. We heard the captain say or maybe one of the onboard lectures told us about "growlers." What are growlers? We know that Astronomer Assistant Danny can be a growler, but that doesn't seem to fit here. Also many of you who visit your local micro brewer know that you can pick up a "growler" full of your favorite draft and take that home and have it keep for a couple of weeks. No, that doesn't seem to be the right definition either. It turns out that the Internet definition that best fits is for small icebergs that lie mostly below the surface and are just barely visible. Yes, we need to be n the lookout for growlers.
|Beautiful scenery and icebergs during passage through Prince Christian Sound (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
Finally, we found one "telescope" on the Explorer's Lounge deck. Not quite what we are used to, and you had to push it around by hand, definitely not a goto scope, but it did give magnified views of the shore. It is really amazing, giving the rugged and beautiful coastline of Greenland, how anyone was able to survive and colonize the country.
|Rugged terrain, glaciers, waterfalls and cruise ship telescope (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
Until next time,
Resident Astronomer George
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