|Alaska, Oct 2008 : State Highway A3
| A good friend of mine wanted to see the Aurora Borealis. I suggested Fairbanks Alaska could be a optimum vantage point. I had assumed at the time that the chances of
seeing the light show was random with a possible lead time for a display of being at most a few days. What we found out is that the probabilities of seeing them is not as random
as I thought. From my limited understanding of the mechanism involved, I think I can say that the Aurora is most likely seen where the Earth's magnetic flux is the densest, when
the tilt of the Earths axis provides exposure to the Solar Wind and the time of year when the nights are longest. The University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Geophysical Institute actually
does provide a long term 28 day forecast with a daily probability scaled from 0 to 9. Had we better understood the details, we may have been able to plan the trip for a better
time. As it was we missed them by a day and had booked the flight back to the "lower 48" before our probabilities could improve. Maybe next time.
Our main hop was from San Francisco to Anchorage. We tracked only a few miles off the Alaskan Coast as well as in altitude. A fantastic view with dozens of glaciers all along
the way. It was afternoon at that point and the angle of the sun light was ideal. I had my camera with me, for some reason, I didn't use it.
For the final leg of the trip we could have taken a connector flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks. But as it worked out, the cost of the connector flight covered renting a car
and driving up to Fairbanks and back. So we decided to drive. We drove state highway A3, the shorter of the two ways of getting to Fairbanks. The distance on A3 is 364 miles.
I think a published estimate for the time was 7 hours. For us, I think it was closer to 6 and we took our time to stop for the view and went a way into the entrance of Denali Park.
By the first week of Oct the facilities were closed for the coming Winter.
The quality of the highway was excellent and once we were out of the Anchorage area proper, (30 miles), saw very few other vehicles at all. Provided a person had normal
hearing and distant sounds were not muffled by the trees, the sound of tires on pavement could be heard for miles. There were no bugs to dirty the wind shield, probably more
of an issue a few months earlier. On the drive up the temperature was probably around 50'F/10'C
I'm going to upload what I call index versions of the original image file. Originals files being about 3.5 Meg and the index files around 400k. Taken with an Olympus E20n 5M
SLR, in I think SHQ. On the way back it got down to 18 outside and my camera started losing track of which memory medium it was using, so things got dynamic until it warmed
back up in side my coat. I didn't want to tempt fate. The images from state highway A3 with the cloudy skies were taken at the high point in the drive located between Fairbanks
and Denali and about 18 degrees outside. I used it for almost all the images on my site.
Basically the images are split between images around Fairbanks and those along state highway A3. There are two panoramic sets that I would like to edit together.
If anybody wants a larger version, to look at, let me know.