Tag Archives: night sky

Lights

The Northern Lights forecast that I check periodically.

Late on the evening of March 29, 2017, somewhere around 11:00 pm, I was compelled to check a website that I check off and on, throughout the year. I am not sure why I was prompted to check this site on that night but I did. Continue reading

Advertisements

Night Lights in NH

screenshot-2016-10-25-at-1-28-22-pm

Check the forecast at http://www.gi.alaska.edu.

screenshot-2016-10-25-at-1-27-59-pm

There are different maps to choose from, but this one is my favorite.

I am a family man living in southern New Hampshire, USA. I live where I live, and in the middle of the night, without venturing from home, I see what I see.

I gaze at the night sky from just north of the 43rd parallel. But on night’s like last night, the forecast was special. Rated a 6 out of 10, or a ‘high’. And the map showed that I would be well above the viewing line of the north horizon. Were I further north, or higher in elevation, my views would have been even more impressive. Then again, you never know if cloud cover will override the forecast, too. So, upon seeing the forecast for last night, I was happy to see that there was not a cloud anywhere to be seen.

c001

It started with no moon and a bright starry sky.

Now, I am not very good at taking pictures, especially at night, but I do try. A lot. These pictures honestly don’t do the scene justice, but I wanted to share them so that others might also #getoutside and see that there is just so much to see.

c014

I live where I live, so I see what I can see. Looking north over the top of my neighbor’s house.

I was outside from 12:30 am until just after 2:00 am. It was 39°F, and the breeze was doing all it could to be upgraded to a full-fledged wind. After my eyes adjusted I was amazed at the light, even with no visible moon. Just stars, and these dancing lights on the horizon.

c024

I waited, and I watched. looking for the light.

I used the tripod (awesome gift from my kids, a few years back), my camera, and I stood in my front yard, grinning. I must admit that I was tired, and probably a little giddy too. I thanked the Lord out loud, and I prayed off and on. I sang the words to How Great Thou Art, and I had an absolute blast out there by myself, watching the sky.

c044

Then, it started. The light show I have been hoping to see.

Even though I didn’t want to go inside, I figured that at some point I had to go in and sleep. So, shortly after 2:00 am, I went inside. I checked the temperature, still 39°F. And I went upstairs to bed.

c070

Blurry, yes, but wow. The colors rise up illuminate the sky.

From upstairs the view was even more impressive, but I didn’t want to shoot pictures through the screens. Or, open the windows to the cool breezes and freeze out my wife. Minutes after I climbed into bed, our youngest son came into our room and climbed into bed. I noticed that he was wide awake. Then father and son, had a nice little moment as I held him up high to the window and let him stare at the lights on the horizon. I asked him if he knew what they were called (he’s 6 years old). He said, “Yes, they are the Southern Lights”. Close enough. He corrected himself and then referenced the movie ‘The Polar Express’. We enjoyed this moment somewhere around 2:30 am. He was nearly as excited as I had been.

c076

As if the stars weren’t enough, God arranged more lights for the show last night.

Then, finally, with everyone tucked into bed, I found sleep. I am willing to bet that I fell asleep with a smile on my face. I thoroughly enjoyed being out in the cool, clean, crisp air, watching the skies and all of the beauty found across this vast space. All from my little spot here in NH, where trees in all directions block most of the views to the horizon. One day, or night, I’ll get to an open, elevated, space when the forecast is 5 or higher, and I’ll watch.

c087

Amazing!

c088

I had so much fun watching these lights.

c089

I watched and kept taking picture after picture.

c090

Finally I called it a night. Buy, my oh my, what a delight!

A Sliver of Night Sky

 

Night sky 081715

I tried to capture the Northern Lights from my font yard and ended up with this. (30 seconds)

Wife is Away

My wife is away for a few days on a business trip. She is very much missed in our household, and her absence is noticed in numerous ways. One such instance occurred over night number one of her trip.

At 4:11am our nearly five-year old son walked into our room. He was sniffling and coughing, but knew exactly where to go in the dark. He climbed up on my wife’s side of the bed, as his routine. Upon discovering the empty space, he continued his roll-slide-shuffle over to the first thing he bumped into, which was me. His breathing was somewhat restricted from being stuffed up, and he is one of those boys who likes to bury himself more and more as he sleeps, often times burrowing himself under his pillows and piles of blankets. I did get him to rest against me and a pillow to get his head elevated. It worked well and he quickly was deeply sleeping again. I enjoyed the snuggle with my dear little boy and it is always rewarding as a parent to know that the child’s journey is complete when arriving here with me. Now my wife, she masters this edge of consciousness and deep sleep thing; me, not at all. I was up.

At 4:53am his twin sister came into our room. As always, she closed the doors to the rooms she left and entered. She wanted mommy but was slightly confused. She asked me if this was the night that mommy came home. I told her tonight was not the night. As she made her way across the bed towards her brother and I, she said, “Oh I thought tonight was the night.” She laid down but she was restless. After a few minutes, at 4:58am exactly, I asked her if she wanted to go back to her bed and sleep there. She said yes. I picked her up and carried her to her room and gently placed her on her bed.

For several minutes, I sat on the floor next to her bed, there in the dark, and I rested my head on the edge of her mattress. My daughter curled up into sleeping position and wrapped one arm around my neck. I sang to her for a little while, going through some of her favorite bedtime songs. Before long she was asleep again. At 5:11am I walked back into our room, wishing I was asleep, but realizing I was fully awake. My son was melting into the bed, sleeping so peacefully and beautifully.

In the dark silence, with the cold winds howling outside, I noticed the gorgeous star lit sky. I walked around and looked at the sky from four different windows, looking in every direction to notice the cloudless sky, and the piercing light from the stars that had no man-made light to compete with from my vantage points. I cannot begin to count the number of times ever since childhood that the sky has captured my attention, often times for long stretches of time, especially at night.

Being wide awake and wanting to get a better look at the sky, I figured I should do something about it. So I made my way downstairs. I threw on some wind-pants and a light jacket. I grabbed my camera and the awesome tripod I got for Christmas from the kids, and ventured into the front yard. Now, the temperature was just 17°F and the winds were whipping up at 15-25 mph, driving the wind chill factor to 0°F. One thing that someone taught me long ago was to take some pleasure in the exhilaration of those cold blasts, and to know that I am very much alive. Standing in the cold, looking to the skies, at 5-something in the morning, I chose to embrace the idea of being very much alive.

Now I am a novice photographer at best, but I do love to participate. I don’t know exactly what I captured in the pictures I took, but I tried to make my camera see at least what I could see, if not more. I set the camera on the tripod and left the shutter open for the maximum 30 seconds that my camera is capable of for each picture. After each shot, the image on my little display looked pretty cool to me, even as I stood shaking a bit in the cold. I hoped I was getting some decent pictures even though I didn’t take a lot of time fumbling around in the dark and the cold.

At 5:58am I made it back to our room. I checked on my son who hadn’t moved a muscle and was sleeping deeply. I checked on my daughter too, and she was out cold, hands and feet both perfectly and symmetrically together. I climbed into bed as not to disturb my little boy, but also with a sense of urgency to get warmed up again. I did get back to sleep for an hour or so before our 8th grader got up for school. The twins both slept until after 7am which is later than usual, especially for my son.

As the morning wore on, I sat down in front of this keyboard to make sense of last night and to figure out the chicken scratch notes I wrote to myself in the dark. I also wished (in a small way) that I could engage with the kids while not fully waking up like my wife does. Then again, I am exhausted but I got to see the treats that are a perfectly clear starlit night sky and the illuminated dots that pierce the darkness from distances measured in years. These are the same sources of light that I sang softly about to my daughter as she drifted back into the awesome vastness of sleep. So tired as I may be (I am), I would have to say it was a great night. My son’s first words to me this morning were, “Dad, I love you soooo much.” Who am I to complain.

I sit here wrapping this whole typing thing up. The sun is bright. The winds are making their presence known. The various shades of green seen in the form of needles long and short, wave and lurch to and fro in the breezes that blow. The outline of the massive pine catches my eye, as it always does, when those greens sway against the perfect blue back drop. I could watch it all for hours, if not days. The sun climbs and the angles of the shadows change. The sky beckons, and I am always game. My gaze is often fixed upon that boundless space. My prayers are so often delivered as I stare to these blue depths. Finishing this, I think of my wife, away from here, and the sky she sees today. I take solace in the space that connects us even in times apart, and one such thing would be the sky. I stare at the blue knowing she can see the sky too, and it helps me feel close, even though my wife is away.

nl1.jpg

30 second exposure looking north. I brightened this up quite a bit but the colors are untouched. The wind was howling so our neighbors outside motion light came on over looking their back deck while I was outside.

nl2.jpg

30 second exposure looking north. Again, brightened some but the colors are true. Loving the night-time sky! There is not a lot of wide open sky around here.

nl3.jpg

30 second exposure looking northwest. The colors were barely visible to my eye, but the open shutter picked them up much better.

nl5.jpg

30 second exposure looking north. The glow, the stars, the silhouetted trees, the colors, and the accompanying cold wind will make this overnight hard to forget.

nl4.jpg

30 second exposure looking north-northeast. I could barely see any discoloration of the night sky with own eyes, but the camera captured this beautifully.

nl6.jpg

30 second exposure looking north. I don’t know what the glow is closer to the horizon. I was hoping for the Northern Lights, but I am not sure I got them. There was a faint light I could see without the camera, but when leaving the shutter open so long, it grabbed a lot of light.