Desert Aurora over Palm Trees
From the photographer: “On the night and morning of May 14/15, 2005, an extremely strong geomagnetic storm sparked displays of the aurora borealis across much of the United States. Maybe only once or twice a year does the aurora become strong enough to appear over the desert Southwest but, when it does, it can produce a remarkable scene, as in this scene from Southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert. This display appeared to the eye rather colorless because the eye doesn’t perceive colors well under low light levels, but the camera picked up its true reddish color which originates from glowing oxygen some 120 miles (200 kilometers) above out planet; the subtle bluish rays on the left come from glowing nitrogen. The motion of the vertical rays was quite apparent though. This may be one of the few images of an auroral display behind palm trees. The bright star at top center is Polaris–the North Star–and appears at an altitude of 33 degrees. This shows how high this aurora display became on this night.” Click on the second photo to see another photo of this night.