When news broke last week that the sun had produced significant outbursts of what are known as coronal mass ejections, night-sky photographer Greg Wise of Powell geared up.

Such ejections can cause geomagnetic storms on Earth, as well as undulations of northern lights in the firmament. Scientists predicted last week’s activity would result in aurora borealis that would be visible as far south as Wyoming. 

Wise and his wife headed out before midnight on Nov. 3 to a viewpoint, he said, but when they arrived they found that a mountain obscured the night-sky phenomenon. They traveled to another location, but the clouds overhead were too thick, he said. So they retreated home and went to sleep. 

When Wise woke up around 2:30 a.m. and checked his phone, he said, “the KP numbers [indicators of northern lights visibility] were just skyrocketing.”

He peered outside and saw clear skies. Wise roused his wife, and they set out for a third attempt, this time at Deaver Reservoir. Conditions weren’t perfect as clouds remained on the horizon, Wise said, but he was still pleased with the resulting long-exposure image. 

“I just tried to find the right composition, and I really like it,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite shots I have ever taken.”

Katie Klingsporn

Katie Klingsporn is WyoFile's managing editor. She is a journalist and word geek who has been writing about life in the West for 15 years. Her pieces have appeared in Adventure Journal, National Geographic...

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