Flow was photographed by the Anchorage International Airport on March 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm.  Northern lights, Mt. Susitna (Sleeping Lady)

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The “Flow” Experience

The sun was overflowing with twisted magnetized gases and suddenly, out of a sunspot, a CME (coronal mass ejection) erupted billions of tons of pure energy into space. Some of this solar flare was geoeffective (earth directed) and on March 10, 2011 a gust of solar wind slammed into us.

Far below in Alaska I witnessed the dynamic interplay of forces from a windy Pt. Woronzof bluff near the Anchorage International Airport. I had broken a dinner date with my wife because online the scientific websites that monitor real-time magnetic disturbances and solar wind speed were bouncing like crazy. The Kp index, a 1-to-10 number summarizing geomagnetic activity, was in the red!

I clocked on at 8 pm and was scanning the sunset when a faint aurora flicker caught my eye over Pt. McKenzie to the northwest. It was not even dark yet! I quickly got my tripods set up and by 8:30 pm the auroras were dancing over Mt. Susitna, the Sleeping Lady. I had been envisioning this shot for two decades.

A half moon illuminated the snow on the Lady while the twilight of a distant sunset burnt in a deep orange glow. The northern lights were a lively shade of green that stretched into tall, barely detectable, rays of magenta. Ice pans made a grinding sound as they slowly rode the incoming tide into the Cook Inlet. From water-to-sky everything was in constant movement including the numerous flights arriving and departing the airport. Talk about a state of "Flow."

When I thought it could not get any better it did; my wife showed up out at the Point with a warm take-out dinner…. the night had become a dream date!

Todd Salat

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Photo Info

Anchorage, AK
Nikon D700 with Nikon 28mm/ f1.4D
2.5 seconds, ƒ/1.6, ISO 800

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