Meet the aurora borealis chasers in Alberta: ‘It’s like nothing else in the world’

Two weeks in the past residents in Southern Alberta witnessed amazing northern lights, also called the aurora borealis.

Whereas it’s generally stated that you should journey to northern Alberta or the Northwest Territories to see them, it’s not unprecedented to see within the southern a part of the province.

Christy Turner, an aurora chaser in Calgary, first noticed the beautiful lights a couple of years in the past whereas driving on a freeway east of town and since then she’s been hooked on chasing them.

“The humorous factor is a pair folks have stated to me if you’ve seen it as soon as, you’ve seen it sufficient. The loopy factor is that couldn’t be extra improper.

“It’s by no means the identical present twice.”

A vivid aurora borealis show in Lac La Biche, Alta., on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.

Courtesy: Jason Caine

The phenomenon happens when electrically charged particles from the solar hit the Earth’s higher environment, then work together with oxygen and nitrogen.

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The possibilities of seeing it enhance within the fall and final by means of winter and spring on darkish, clear, cool nights.

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The Calgary Aurora Chasers and Alberta Aurora Chasers are two native teams that monitor the potential for an aurora.

They analyze information, monitor photo voltaic occasions, monitor photo voltaic wind speeds after which share their findings on social media, however Turner stated there’s by no means a assure you will notice one.

“The information may look incredible. You may assume there’s an important present brewing and nothing will occur,” stated Turner.

“Then we’ll have an evening after we’ll get an excellent vivid present. It’s unstable. It’s not a film, so persistence will repay over time for certain.”

A vivid aurora borealis show on the Walterdale Bridge in central Edmonton on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.

Courtesy: Spencer Vandermeer

The possibility of seeing an aurora will increase by discovering a spot to view them, away from metropolis lights, defined photographer Matt Melnyk.

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Nostril Hill Park is a well-liked spot inside the metropolis of Calgary, Melnyk identified. He additionally suggests driving a couple of minutes exterior on a rustic street close to Cochrane and Airdrie the place there’s much less gentle air pollution.

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“Generally it’s important to wait till about two to a few within the morning to see one thing,” Melnyk stated.

“It’s fairly rewarding to only see the completely different colors, the purple, the greens, reds, the blues.”

There was a gentle rise within the variety of aurora chasers in Alberta.

“It’s like nothing else on this planet. It feels just like the sky is alive,” 22-year-old astrophotographer Dylan Kaniski stated.

“The aurora is continually shifting and altering, altering colors, altering velocity, depth — so it actually feels such as you’re watching the world come to life in entrance of you.”

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Learn extra:
‘Great locations for northern lights’: Albertans share spectacular shots following bright sky show

In keeping with Alberta Aurora Chasers’ Chris Ratzlaff, many younger persons are fascinated by the aurora. Ratzlaff stated early in 2021, the Alberta Aurora Chasers Fb group had 30,000 members. That quantity has tripled to greater than 100,000.

He stated chasing auroras is one thing folks can do to get open air and socialize with others in a protected approach through the pandemic.

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Aurora Borealis dancing throughout the evening sky

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Ratzlaff stated images of auroras are extra vibrant than what folks see as a result of cameras are extra delicate, they don’t have limitations and are in a position to decide up a variety of colors utilizing an extended publicity.

Astrophotographer Kaniski affords recommendation for these attempting to take photos at evening.

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“Ensure you’re taking pictures in lengthy exposures. My settings are normally round 10 seconds with an aperture of two.8 and an ISO of 1600.”

The Aurora Borealis in Cochrane, AB.

Christy Turner – Calgary Aurora Chasers

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has designated 5 locations in Alberta as Darkish Sky Preserves: Cypress Hills in southeastern Alberta; Jasper Nationwide Park; Beaver Hills, east of Edmonton; Lakeland Provincial Park, east of Lac La Biche; and Wooden Buffalo Nationwide Park in northern Alberta.

“A darkish sky protect is principally an astronomy park the place native guidelines defend the sunshine in opposition to gentle air pollution from large cities,” stated Peter McMahon, basic supervisor on the Jasper Planetarium and award-winning writer and science journalist.

“And Jasper is very a superb place to have a type of as a result of there aren’t that many avenue lights right here already, the mountains block out loads of the sunshine air pollution coming from cities — principally it’s only a good spot to view the evening sky.”

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The northern lights in Sage Hill, northwest Calgary

The northern lights in Sage Hill, northwest Calgary.

Courtesy: Matt Melnyk

As soon as you see an aurora it’s necessary to doc and report your sightings.

This helps scientists additional research this mysterious phenomenon and its affect on our communications community.

“It’s at all times attainable that an exceptionally giant flux of charged particles can overload the satellite tv for pc circuitry and burn it out,” Roland Dechesne, with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, instructed International Information.

“The extra we perceive, the higher we will anticipate a number of the issues that would plague our technical units.” is a citizen-science website the place anybody can publish optimistic sightings in your space.

Dr. Elizabeth MacDonald, who works for NASA and based, stated Alberta is a superb place to see the northern lights.

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“Alberta has a tremendous group of citizen scientists and alternatives to see the aurora 12 months spherical, it’s actually necessary to become involved as a result of the aurora are at all times altering and circumstances are at all times altering,” she instructed International Information.

A vivid aurora borealis show in Wetaskiwin, Alta., on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.

Courtesy: Tammy Williams

© 2021 International Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc. | Meet the aurora borealis chasers in Alberta: ‘It’s like nothing else on this planet’


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