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It was a frosty September night and I was enjoying my birthday while aurora hunting on top of Murphy Dome, just west of Fairbanks. At midnight, in the pitch dark new moon (i.e. no moon) skies, I got my birthday present ~ a beautiful emerald green aurora.
Usually, I like to photograph auroras on moonlit nights so a foreground shows up in the picture, but tonight I knew I'd have to create my own. I searched and searched for a big healthy spruce tree (not always an easy thing to find in the Interior of Alaska, especially at night) and found a big 'ol Christmas tree. I lined it up with the Big Dipper and just as the aurora started to really glow, I locked opened the camera shutter, scrambled and tumbled my way down behind the tree, and back lit it with two “poofs” from my hand-held flash unit. Ta-Dum! That was my contribution to “Alaska Magic.” You'll have to ask Mother Nature how she added her secret ingredient.