February 9, 2011

Brilliant Skies and Beautiful Dancers

Filed under: Everyday Life,Photography — Susan Stevenson @ 2:07 pm

This past weekend was a spectacular one for aurora viewing!  I’ve been keeping my eye on the aurora cam each evening, and when the aurora appears fairly high in the sky, the lights can usually be seen from my house. If it’s not too cold, I run outside with camera and tripod, and look to the skies.  I was greatly rewarded as the hours passed. After midnight, the lights were edged in purple and danced straight above me.  Here are photos from Friday night’s light show:

northern lights

northern lights

northern lights

northern lights

Aurora Aurora Aurora
Aurora Aurora Aurora
Aurora Aurora Aurora
Aurora Aurora
Aurora Aurora Aurora

Late Saturday night, the Aurora Cam was going crazy with the northern lights again. My friend Lori messaged me and told me she’d pick me up, if I wanted to go out to Nordale flats with her for a better view of the sky. I jumped at the chance of viewing the sky from a wide open space.

When we got to the pull off, there was another vehicle there, and quite a few cars were driving past on the road – which made for a lot of headlight pollution. It was quite frustrating, but we both managed to capture some if the night sky. I could faintly see tinges of red and purple in the aurora at one point.

northern lights

northern lights

When the traffic seemed to get even more frequent, bringing bright headlights directly at us, and ruining our chances of getting any good photos, Lori and I decided to head north, up the Steese Hwy, where we knew it would be dark. As we made our way north, the sky exploded with light above us. There was no place to pull off and get any photos unfortunately, so we just had to enjoy them from the car windows.

We decided to pull off the road at the Pedro Monument Historical Wayside at mile 16.5 on the Steese Hwy. Although we were surrounded by rolling hills, they didn’t obstruct our view of the aurora – and in fact added some interest to our photos, in my opinion.

It was absolutely dark out there, although a glance back toward town showed orange-lit skies from the city lights.  That was actually pretty neat, as the constellation Orion was backlit by the peachy-orange color, making it stand out even more brightly.

What a gorgeous night we had! The aurora was fabulous, and I spent more time gazing upward in awe, than I did triggering the shutter button on my camera.

Yellow and white light explodes behind the hills:
northern lights

northern lights

northern lights

northern lights

Aurora Aurora Aurora
Aurora Aurora Aurora
Aurora points to Pleiades Constellation Orion Aurora
Aurora Aurora Aurora
Aurora Aurora Aurora
Aurora Aurora Aurora

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VOODOO MOON

Friday night, the local dance community put on a show highlighting all forms of dance.  There was belly dancing, tribal style dancing, ballroom, folk, Spanish, and more. It was a wonderful sensory overload of color, sound, and movement. This is just a small sampling of the photos I took at the event. I shot more than 150 photos!

Cold Fusion

Alaska Awalim

Angela Linda Souzana Taryn

Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon
Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon
Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon
Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon
Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon
Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon
Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon
Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon
Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon
Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon Voodoo Moon

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Steve and I worked very hard yesterday to clear out much of the *stuff* in the office, so that I can paint and shampoo the carpets, before moving the stuff back in – in a much more organized fashion. The guest room is a mess, since it’s full of stuff from the office, but eventually I’ll get it all together again. Best of all, we have our dining room back – which has been an ongoing staging area for my photography equipment, matting and framing supplies, etc. What a relief!

Knowing that Chris will be coming in a little more than a month (YAY!) makes me even more determined to get everything organized. It will be nice to have a functioning guest room again, rather than a catch-all room for overflow boxes, etc.  Where did all this stuff come from?!

My blog friend Liz is en route to AK as I type this.  They’ll be getting in late tonight. I hope to get together with her this weekend maybe. We’ll touch base tomorrow (hopefully) and try to coordinate our schedules. I look forward to meeting her and her husband Kurtis!

It’s snowing and so beautiful! It’s amazing how the sight of falling snow can make me happy – even as winter goes on and on and on…

Until next time…

33 Comments »

  1. I really injoyed the photos, I was outside on friday night injoying my hot tub, but I guess I didn’t stay out long enough to catch the lights, Thank you for posting these beautiful pictures. Good Job!!!

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Hi Tom, and thanks for your kind words. The lights were amazing! I’m glad I stayed up late to enjoy them. And I’m also glad it wasn’t 40 below. That’s never any fun. I’m sure you enjoyed your soak despite not seeing the light show.

    Warm regards,
    Susan

    [Reply]

    Comment by tom,uptgraft — February 9, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

  2. Susan, I’m in Awe of you! Those pictures are amazing! I was waiting in anticipation of your pictures from Voodoo Moon and even knowing the lighting was bad I knew your pictures would be amazing. It was wonderful to meet you too. I added a link to your blog to mine. I haven’t used mine consistently for a long time but I’ve just recently dusted it off. Hope to see you around. ~DJ

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Hi Donna and thank you! The Voodoo Moon show was definitely a little more challenging as the lighting did leave a lot to be desired. I didn’t want to risk quality by upping my ISO (grain) so I did end up with quite a few blurry photos. But I’m happy with the ones I did capture. I think they show the dancers’ joy and talent well. And it was so much fun!

    So nice to meet you finally! And thank you for the link to your blog. I’m going to have to check it out. I love blogging. I hope you’ll continue to write.

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    OH, I added your blog to Google Reader so I can follow you. I find myself spending a lot of time in Reader, catching up on blogs from all over the state – and the world. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Comment by Donna Capps — February 9, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

  3. Hi Susan,

    I love your blog. We were in Alaska in the summer of 2007, and, of course, did not get to see the Aurora. Thank you for sharing these pictures. You are an amazing photographer. I will, as usual, be following the Iditarod next month.

    Regina

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Hi Regina and thank you for your kind words. I’m sure you enjoyed your visit to AK in the summer months, but that is one of the down sides to coming when the sun never sets. I actually miss the stars in the summer months, but I don’t complain. It’s so fleeting that we enjoy every second of it!

    Right now, I’m following the Yukon Quest. Because it started in Whitehorse this year, I’m hoping to be available when the teams start coming close to Fairbanks and the finish line. I’d love to grab some photos of the teams.

    This is a great time of year for racing. I love it!

    Take care,
    Susan

    [Reply]

    Regina Van Lone Reply:

    Hi Susan,

    We enjoyed AK very much. One of the excursions we took was a sled dog drive in a wheeled cart. Our driver was Hugh Neff. I was so excited and Hugh and I talked for quite some time!! Also, my husband and I both worked for Ralston Purina. Purina Pro-Plan sponsored Susan Butcher.
    Looking forward to your pictures from the Yukon Quest.

    BTW – We are owned by a sled dog — a Samoyed named Dakota.

    You take care too.

    Regina

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    How exciting that you got to experience a sled dog ride in the summer. The dogs are so excited and love their job. I love that the most of all. 🙂

    Samoyeds are gorgeous dogs! How lucky for you both to have Dakota in your life. There’s nothing like the companionship of a canine furkid. After I had to make the decision to put my beloved Sedona down, I knew it wasn’t going to be long before another dog came into our family. I just can’t imagine living without a dog.

    Comment by Regina Van Lone — February 9, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  4. Hi Susan,

    OUTSTANDING photos posted again! The aurora ones are so neat. The dancers looked like they were having fun – very colorful! Luv looking at Alaska thru your eyes!

    It’s good to hear you are making progress with your guest room. I had to chuckle at – “Where did all this stuff come from?” How well I know that feeling!!! It will all come together – keep working at it. Enjoy your company – sounds like fun!

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thank you Connie! I’m happy you enjoyed them.

    The dancers were fabulous! I love entertainment like this. These ladies (and gents) are so talented. I wish I could dance like them. 🙂

    Why is it that *stuff* seems to multiply and before we know it, we’re surrounded by clutter? I should really keep on top of things! LOL

    [Reply]

    Comment by Connie — February 9, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  5. I have followed your web site for a long time.
    And I believe these to be the best set of photos of the Northern Lights that you have ever shared!

    Amazing and beautiful! I hope to someday be able to see them in person.

    Lastly, I appreciate the time and effort you put into taking and sharing. Keep up the excellent work!

    Al

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Hi Al, and thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m happy that you like these aurora photos. It was a spectacular weekend, and the temperature was bearable. I love seeing them from my driveway, as well as the wide open spaces nearby. I hope you do get to see the aurora sometime. It’s truly awe-inspiring!

    Thanks for your kind words, Al. Take care,

    Susan

    [Reply]

    Comment by Al — February 9, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

  6. Amazing aurora photos Susan!! The photos of the dancers are also amazing, that looks like it was a ton of fun!!

    Hey when you get done organizing your place you can come a few hundred miles south and help me 😉 LOL

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thanks Lisa. We had a great weekend. Lights, entertainment, time with friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a Friday and Saturday evening. I sure hope the aurora stays active this month and next. I want my son to see them when he comes up next month!

    Organization is not my strong suit. I’m proud to have gotten this far. LOL

    [Reply]

    Comment by Lisa J — February 9, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  7. Wow Wow Wow!!!!

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    It was so awesome! I hope we have more of the same while my son is visiting!!!!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Tammy Kauffman — February 9, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  8. Your photos of the lights are beautiful! I can’t wait to see the lights. This is my second winter in Alaska, but we live in Anchorage– not the best place to view them. Hopefully next winter we can head north and get a great show!

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    I do hope you can see the lights someday! My friend in Wasilla got great photos, so they were visible even down that far. Sometimes you just have to get out of Anchorage and away from the city lights to see them. I hope you have the opportunity.

    If you do decide to come to Fairbanks for a visit, schedule your trip for late Feb to mid March and enjoy our Ice Festival too. It’s amazing!

    [Reply]

    Comment by ashley @ ashley's adventures in alaska — February 9, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

  9. Really …. what a treat!!! My husband has never seen the northern lights and it’s on his bucket list. I love the idea of taking him on an Alaskan trip in March for the ice festival.

    When I was a teenager, we lived in Haines, AK. On more than one occasion we could actually “hear” the northern lights. They make a crackling noise sometimes. I never experienced that when we moved to Fairbanks. Also, the northern lights in Haines were never as colorful.

    Thanks so much for sharing your artwork with us!!

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Hi Susan and thanks for commenting. This past weekend was amazing for a light show. Both Friday and Saturday were very active, and we had clear skies to really enjoy them!

    How exciting that you lived in Haines! Steve and I visited Haines in August 2009 (You can read about our trip here: http://susanstevenson.com/blog/2009/08/np-to-haines-aug-vacation-part-1-of-5/) We loved it so much that we both decided that we could live there. 🙂 The people and community were similar to Fairbanks, despite the difference in size, in that everyone was very friendly and welcoming. The only downside was being so cut off from the rest of the state, and having to go through Canada to get there by road. The Haines Library has my photo of the library totem pole under construction on their informational sign in front of the building – an honor!

    As for the lights making noise – I’ve heard them! Last April, we had the most amazing light show here. Coronas burst overhead. It was dead silent and I was standing in the road photographing the aurora. I heard the crackle and I felt my hairs standing on end. My husband was working up at Fort Knox (35 miles away) and we were watching together. When he came home he mentioned the crackling sound too, so I know I wasn’t imagining it!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Suddenly Susan — February 10, 2011 @ 3:47 am

  10. Susan,

    The pictures are amazing. I live vicariously through you since I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to experience Alaska for myself!

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thank you Lori! I do hope you’ll get to experience Alaska someday. It’s a beautiful place to visit and live.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Lori — February 10, 2011 @ 6:02 am

  11. I ran across your blog while doing an internet search for my old radar site, Murphy Dome. I spent a year there from 1972 to 1973. I arrived in October and winter was already well under way. Your pictures of the aurora are spectacular. Growing up in Michigan, there were rare opportunitys to catch a faint glimpse of the “northern lights”. Seeing them up close and personal in from the top of the Dome was an entirely new experience. They seemed alive moving about the night sky and colors were spectacular. My year in Alaska was one of the best of my life. I enjoyed every minute of it. I still have the Alaska state flag and my souvenier “oosik” that have traveled with me everywhere I have been since. Anyway, thanks for posting the photos. They provided me a chance to relive some pleasant moments.

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Hi Ritch and thank you for stopping by and commenting. Thank you for your lovely words about my aurora photos. I can only imagine how beautiful it was for you to watch the northern lights from atop Murphy Dome. I drove up there once in the winter, with a friend, but the lights never showed. It would have been fabulous to see them from the *top of the world*.

    I’m glad you have your memories of your time in AK – as well as your souvenirs! 🙂

    If I ever had to leave AK, I know my heart would remain here. It’s a most wonderful place to live!

    Warm regards,
    Susan

    [Reply]

    Comment by Ritch Gallagher — February 10, 2011 @ 10:46 am

  12. Just amazing…

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thanks, Cat. It was a great weekend for viewing!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Cat — February 11, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  13. Hi Susan I just want to say this and really mean it
    from the bottom of our hearts. These photos of the
    Northern Lights are the up most best ones that you have taken. Of course you know how much I love them. Thanks to you this is one reason why I really love to
    start my time everyday reading your Journal and Viewing your Photos.
    Our very much Love to the both of you. Please take care. Till next time

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thank you John and Shirley. I was so happy to see them out so brightly, and for my friend Lori to offer to pick me up and take me with her to photograph them. It’s nice to share them with a friend, rather than being alone photographing them.

    I know how much you love the northern lights, and I was hoping you’d enjoy these photos.

    Love to you both,
    Susan

    [Reply]

    Comment by John and Shirley Strauser — February 11, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  14. hi again great shots of all the lights and even more so with all the stars out just makes it even more enjoyable. im ready to get ahold of my buddy and head up to the caban in canada. ha ha its a good thing your able to be a night person with steves hours as they are. i knoiw i speak for many when i say were all very greatful for all the hard loving work you do. only a very few would venture out on the roads at night and glad you got a freind to go with you. keep up all the good work and LORD bless you and keep you safe as yuo travel at night . i wished i could be back there again and maby some day but un tell than your work brings me back and keers me ther and i and im sure many thank you greatly for that. get some good sleep in and get ready for the next shoot. smiles

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thanks Bruce. Glad you enjoyed the lights. The stars were amazing! I love starry nights when the aurora is out.

    I hope you’re enjoying your time in Canada. Stay warm! We got some more snow here today, and wind.

    I hope you can come back for a visit someday. I’d love to meet you. 🙂

    Travel safely!

    Susan

    [Reply]

    Comment by Bruce Rufer — February 13, 2011 @ 7:13 am

  15. Wow Susan. The aurora is just unbelievable. You captured it so beautifully. The show looked very entertaining.

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thanks Hayley. We’ve had some great activity here lately. We had aurora last night too, but the moon is very bright so they weren’t as intense. I love seeing the lights dance. I hope they come out while my son is visiting.

    The dance performance was awesome. There are so many talented ladies here in Fairbanks!

    I hope you’re doing well. I know you must miss your husband. Good luck with the sale/rent of your home. We owned a home in NC that was a rental for five years before we could sell it. It’s so stressful sometimes.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Hayley — February 19, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

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