No ghosts in my backyard.... I saw it!

by Michelle Stone

I kept watching the sky tonight every half hour or so for the northern lights. I've never seen them before so I was really happy to hear that tonight would be a great opportunity. I didn't really know what time to expect them to appear. At 12:30, I stepped out the back door for the last time to check, feeling like it was a bust. I was very surprised.

Stretching at least 60 degrees across the northern horizon and 35 degrees up from the north, the sky was a deep bright pinkish color. I could see areas brightening and dimming. I thought that this would be good to watch from the hot tub but alas, there is a scrub oak blocking the view directly to the north. So I set up my chair 20 feet south, just outside the back door and settled in with a pair of binos.

The show did not last long. I had caught it at its peak. But I watched for another hour as the sky gradually returned to it's normal sky glow across the northern horizon. Occasionally, some area would become a little brighter with a gray/pinkish hue and then dim out.

As I was watching and waiting, I did a bit of binos viewing. M81 and M82 were quite lovely just above the rising big dipp. I looked at the carbon stars in Perseus, the double cluster, and the one near M37. Subaru looked fabulous in the binos, with all those very bright blue stars. I could not see any of the reflection nebulae surrounding the stars but it was still a lovely sight.

I topped off the evening looking at M32. This galaxy is best viewed with binoculars. As I stared at the great Andromeda galaxy, I kept thinking that I'd never get to go out there. I suppose that I'm lucky that I have the tools to look and dream.

Off to bed.