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Northern Lights Over Jackson Hole, WyomingMarch 9, 2012
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The Aurora Borealis, aka northern lights, light up over Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
I was giving up on this so-called great solar storm around midnight last night. Skies had clouded up just after sunset, the impact wasn’t as strong as they had predicted, and I was getting tired. Just out of curiosity, I checked the immediate aurora forecast and saw that activity was beginning to pick up to where it might show up down here in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I went out onto my balcony, which faces north, to do a quick test shot just to see if I would even get anything. To my surprise, the clouds had thinned out considerably and were even beginning to clear out, so I grabbed my gear and headed out.
My instincts weren’t very good last night because despite getting some nice shots, given another chance (which may happen within the next few days!), I would go to completely different spots, and in general just be more prepared. I initially went out onto the National Elk Refuge, where I typically would never go for a landscape because there are power lines and facilities scattered around the landscape. I stayed out there for a few minutes, watching and photographing the faint auroras before realizing there were much better locations to be shooting.
Next I pulled out at the Flat Creek Overlook along Highway 89 just outside of Jackson, Wyoming, and while the view was nice, I noticed that it was more of a north-northeast view rather than north. I could tell that the best views were directly north, to which a butte was blocking my view. I also needed a bit of gas at this point, so I reluctantly put a few dollars into my car and finally headed north to the first view point that had the Teton Mountains in them: the Grand Teton National Park welcome sign pullout, roughly 45 minutes later. In hindsight, I should have just driven the extra mile past that to the Gros Ventre Junction, but my excitement had me pull off here and set up a time-lapse without even considering the obstructing foreground objects, such as larger sagebrush and of course, passing cars on the highway.
Regardless, it was quite the show and using a telephoto lens, I was at least able to get the shot below and a pretty nice time-lapse. I may even try to take the cars out since they’re rather distracting during the best part. Either way, I can’t complain. Despite not getting home till 4am, I’d say it was well worth it. There’s still plenty activity picking up and even another solar storm headed this way, so keep your eyes (and cameras) fixed on the night sky!