Aurora Over Tucson

On the evening of March 30th, 2001 an enormous wave of ionized gasses struck the earth's magnetosphere. Created two days earlier by a titantic coronal mass ejection on the sun, this wave of particles was funneled down the earth's magnetic field to the upper atmosphere. Here the particles excited the atoms of the thin air and caused them to glow, in the same manner as a neon sign.

These pictures were taken above Tucson at Redington Pass between 2300 and 2330 MST. A 35mm lens open to f/4.5 on Kodak Elite 100 film at exposures ranging from 30 seconds to several minutes. The photos are are arranged on chronological order and are taken looking north, Polaris, Ursa Minor and Vega rising are visible.

Interestingly there was a great deal of green visible to the eye, a series if shaft-like regions looking like sweeping seachlight beams. The Ektachrome film failed to capture this part of the show.

After about an hour the show started to wane and we drove back into Tucson. I did note the red glow in the northern sky had covered most of the sky at the peak, red staining the dark all the way into Corvus. There were reports of this auroral show as far south as Mexico City, indicating just how powerful an event this had been.