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DayCreek Journal

August 8 , 2004

The Sky

I thought I would take a bit of a diversion from the normal journal minutia and instead share with you some of the incredible skies that have graced our place over the last two weeks. The auroras, storms, rainbows and beautiful sunsets have all played a part in this incredible show of nature. I guess we'll start with the auroras that occurred here on July 26th.

Auroras can occur at any time of the year, but are more frequent near the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle. We are past the peak now by a few years, but every once in a while things just work out right. In order to see the Northern Lights you need to (1) have fairly dark skies, (2) clear skies, (3) cooperation from the sun via a solar flare, (4) the earth's magnetic field has to be aligned just right and (5) be situated somewhere preferably in Canada or the northern U.S. (in the northern hemisphere) although sometimes they are spotted as far south as California and Arizona.

As luck would have it, the skies were clear and dark on the 26th. I had just gotten off the phone with Jo when I stuck my head outside to see a faint glow to the north. I grabbed my tripod, camera and bug spray and starting shooting pictures. At first, it didn't look too impressive, but all at once the sky just lit up all the way to the zenith with the bright glow of the lights. By eleven o'clock, the show was quite spectacular with curtains of green flashing in the sky. But after about 20 minutes, the glow had retreated to the northern horizon. Interestingly, there still was a faint blue/purple aurora taking place that only the camera was able to detect. By the way, in order to photograph auroras, you need a camera that can take time exposures of at least 10 seconds to 30 seconds and settings that will allow for ASA film speeds of 400 to 800 speed film. Most newer, digital cameras have the ability to take time exposures.

One week after the Northern Lights came heat, humidity and more storms. On August 3rd, storms dumped 3 inches of rain in a period of 90 minutes. The La Crosse area has now received over 32 inches of rain for the year. This is already above normal for the annual amount. Who knows how much more will occur between now and the end of the year.

Lately, the storms that rock the area are "Armageddonish." I think the local weather office has abolished the term "Thunder Showers". I don't think they exist any more. It's either fair weather or Armageddon storms. High winds, hail, lots of cloud-to-ground lightening and heavy rain seems to be the storms of choice for this region. The above photograph show's the sky as it really looked at about 4:30 in the afternoon. Just another "typical" storm.

But every once in a while there is a good ending to the storms and today proved this out. At about 7:30 this evening the sun broke through the clouds and produced a very vivid rainbow that lasted until sunset. Not only were the colors of the rainbow vivid, but the color of the sky was just as incredible. The sky turned to various hues of yellow, red and orange as the sun set behind the bluffs. I was in awe to say the least. It was a beautiful ending to the week and an incredible site to behold.

This upcoming week will find me tackling wall number 54. Only 11 more walls to go!


This photograph was taken about an hour after the rainbow. Looks familiar doesn't it? Add a moon and a shooting star and you'd have the Daycreek banner.