Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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Aurora Borealis - in WV?: Scott Depot, WV, November 6, 2001 - 2:00 AM

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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I want to show you what watching these auroras was like, but first I want to try to show you what God is really like. Whoa- I know, big change of subject, but stay with me here. No one said it better than God Himself:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
-Psalm 103

I'll bet you've never heard anything like that before. Sort of different from what everyone in this world is saying about God. You know what? It gets better. Let me tell you about it.

It was on the 11:00 news on Monday night - a strong solar flare was going to result in Aurora Borealis visible in West Virginia sometime after midnight. I'm not sure how many people actually stayed up to watch it. I was tired myself and wary of giving up half of a night's sleep, but I went out nonetheless. That turned out to be a decent decision.

I drove west down to Teays Valley, where the terrain is flatter and less polluted by city lights. Between 12:00 and 1:00 AM, there were two small, faint auroral displays on the northern horizon (see last two photos at right). After 20 minutes of seeing nothing more, I started heading home. But as I drove up the I-64 onramp in St. Albans, I looked over to see the northwestern sky begin to explode with huge, bright red auroras.

I rushed back to a field near Scary Creek and recorded the sky with the digital camera and 35mm slide film. The big show lasted almost 15 minutes before it began to fade. A red glow was still visible at 3:00 AM.

I'd never been much of a night sky watcher before, but after seeing this spectacle I'll be looking out for the next one.

Camera/Lens/Film: 35mm Pentax K1000 SLR, 28mm lens, Fuji Sensia II 100 ASA.
Exposure: 20 to 60 seconds @ F2.8

[ click photos to enlarge ]

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