On December 7, 2013, earth was impacted by an intense coronal mass ejection and the auroras went wild.

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The “Powerline” Experience

My hometown of Anchorage, Alaska was blanketed by thick as pea soup fog on this evening of December 7, 2013. With such poor visibility I went online to the various space weather websites and discovered that a high-speed solar wind stream was buffeting Earth, which is awesome news to an aurora hunter. I then discovered that the folks up north in Fairbanks were getting lit up with heroic coronas straight overhead and it wasn't even 9 pm yet! And here we were socked in.

I figured my only hope was to gain elevation and rise above the fog so I raced to the Flattop trailhead along Anchorage's upper hillside, scrambled into position and preserved this jubilating moment at 11:17 pm.

This image is actually composed of four overlapping 8-second exposures stitched together to showcase the wonderful 180° panoramic viewpoint. The bright glow to the left is from the Anchorage city lights coupled with a rare treat of red auroras dancing over Wolverine Peak. The tallest pointed mountain near the center is O'Malley Peak while the dark swath of spruce trees below and climbing to the right is Powerline Pass. At the far right edge is Flattop Mountain.

This area of the Chugach Mountains is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and contains a myriad of trails. See the trail leading to Flattop? From there you can reach for the stars of Orion.

Todd Salat

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