Waiting for Aurora

April 14, 2013  •  1 Comment

Reports on the news and all over the internet claimed that an aurora borealis would be visible from New Jersey last night.  Sounds unbelievable, right?  Even with the slightest chance of capturing this amazing event, we made our way to Jenny Jump State Forest.  This 4,200 acre forest is about an hour west of where we live, providing enough distance from one of the greatest sources of light pollution, New York City.  We arrived around 7pm to scout out an area that had a large clearing.  Since we had never been there before, we did get a little lost and settled on an open spot near the park office.  Initially, we were joined by two families to catch the sunset.  Once the sun fell below the horizon, we were left alone to wait until the sky was its darkest.

Around 9pm, we decided to seek out a new location.  At this angle, we were facing the direction of the sunset, which created that orange glow at the horizon.  We wanted to find a spot to have the darkest sky possible.  The next place we headed was the observatory within the park.  Truthfully, we wanted to get there from the get go and couldn't find it... but it was worth another try.  Luckily, within a matter of minutes, we found it.  Signs posted alongside the slender road told us to only keep our parking lights on.  The car's lights were illuminated by the small red reflectors found on both sides of the road.  Once at the top, we had several guys direct us to a designated parking spot, since the area was already filled with other observers.  

Once at the observatory, we could see red lights stationed at the base of the facilities that housed equipment used by the United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey.  These lights created a red hue all around this area that was not entirely visible to the naked eye.  The lights from the town below was also reflected by the wall of clouds above us. Of course, as soon as we arrived, the clouds came too.  And we waited... and waited... According to the radar from weather.com, there was no indication that the cloud cover would let up.  At least not until maybe 2/3am.  We did stay until there was maybe one or two other cars left in the parking lot.  As you can see, the most activity we saw in the sky was the occasional airplane.  

Well, as it turns out, some things are too good to be true.  

 

-Kristin


Comments

Nicole LoRe(non-registered)
If you ever get the chance..Cherry Springs State Park in Northwest Pennsylvania is one of the darkest skies in North America. There is a regular camping area with excellent views of the Milky Way and also a section nearby for serious stargazers - red lighting and everything. It took us about 4 hours to drive there, but definitely worth it.
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