Author Topic: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission  (Read 1385 times)

Offline moish

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2018, 08:50:58 PM »
No concern booking one night that you wouldnt see the lights?

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2018, 03:29:08 AM »
What kind of car did you get?

Volvo V60 auto AWD

No concern booking one night that you wouldnt see the lights?

A huge concern.  That's primarily why I waited so late to book, so I could follow the weather forecasts and make last minute changes.  This happens to be low season in between the high seasons of Dec and Jan, so I wasn't too concerned about not being able to get a room.

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2018, 06:59:01 AM »
Really cool! Sounds like a great trip. Thanks for sharing pictures.

Offline moish

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2018, 07:26:57 AM »

A huge concern.  That's primarily why I waited so late to book, so I could follow the weather forecasts and make last minute changes.  This happens to be low season in between the high seasons of Dec and Jan, so I wasn't too concerned about not being able to get a room.
Which site did you follow for forecast, and did you find it to be accurate?

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2018, 06:37:24 PM »
I'm going to skip shabbos and go straight to Saturday night.  Shabbos isn't easy, so make sure to consult your LOR.  Originally I was thinking about being farther north, but everyone I spoke to said it's too complicated if there's no sunrise/sunset.  It's complicated where I was too, because sunrise and sunset both take a really long time.  But I digress.

I had made a pretty last minute booking to take a dogsled trip out to hunt for the aurora.  There are loads of companies that run these tours, as well as snowmobile tours, and they all seem to be well-rated.  I chose the first one I called that had availability, and they picked me up promptly from my hotel and drove me out to their kennel.

They treat their dogs like family, and I was able to help get them harnessed, etc.  They use Alaskan Huskies, which are much smaller than their Siberian cousins.

IT WAS COLD.  They provided a warm jumpsuit, balaclava, mittens, boots, etc., and I was already REALLY layered up, but you still feel it.  You eyes tear and when you blink they freeze shut.  Quite the experience. 

"


We got out to a pitch black frozen lake, where the guides lit a fire in their teepee, and made tea/coffee and these little pastry things.  It was foggy when we arrived, so low hopes of seeing any activity.  I was sitting inside chatting with one of the guides since everyone else on the tour only spoke Chinese, when the other guide came in and asked if anyone had a decent camera.  My phone had froze, literally, but I had my mirrorless and tripod and we went out.  The fog had cleared and there was a faint glow in the shape of an edge of a sphere, as if the particles were hitting the atmosphere and illuminating.  It was gorgeous, and started to get brighter and brighter, moving and changing as it brightened.  It was much brighter than my first night, and I was legitimately in awe again.  I cannot believe that seeing the lights will ever get old.








 

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2018, 06:40:33 PM »
Which site did you follow for forecast, and did you find it to be accurate?

For the weather I would just google the location, and use accuweather or whatever was first.  They were pretty accurate when you're within two to three days.  Any longer, not so much.

For the KP index forecast I used:

http://www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/

Which was VERY accurate, and I will discuss how amazing it was for me in another post.

I also kept an eye on this one, which was pretty accurate as well.


Offline a good yeshiva bachur

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2018, 01:47:26 AM »
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 01:51:23 AM by a good yeshiva bachur »

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Offline Dan

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2018, 02:23:02 AM »

Amazing TR so far, but I do have to ask, what percent of the Aurora in the pic would you say was actually visible with your naked eye vs. what a long exposure caught?
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Offline Aaaron

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2018, 08:24:47 AM »
Amazing TR so far, but I do have to ask, what percent of the Aurora in the pic would you say was actually visible with your naked eye vs. what a long exposure caught?

Great question.  These were fairly weak.  The KP index when I was at the Ranch was about a 1, and these were a little closer to 2.  I'll get to it in a bit, but a few hours later it hit a 4, and the difference is astounding.

Here's a pre-edited pic:



But that still picks up a lot more than the eye can see.

Here's pretty much what the eyes saw, except a LOT more stars were visible. 





Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2018, 08:48:17 AM »
The KP index when I was at the Ranch was about a 1, and these were a little closer to 2.  I'll get to it in a bit, but a few hours later it hit a 4, and the difference is astounding.

Just to clarify one thing, the KP doesn't determine the strength of the aurora; that would be the Bz component. KP tells you how far south the auroral oval will be, so technically you could be at the perfect spot KP-wise and barely see anything due to the Bz component being high (negative numbers are better).

In your case, either the auroras were simply stronger further north, and they moved southward as the KP became stronger, or the Bz component went negative. So KP isn't the be all end all, rather one part of many in an exciting chase.
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Offline Aaaron

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2018, 09:02:26 AM »
Now for the main event, my original hospitality goal, the ICEHOTEL.  People say it's in Kiruna, but it's actually about 20 minutes away in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.  I couldn't pronounce it, but I was told it means "the meeting place by the river/lake."

This was the most I ever spent on a hotel room, but you're not paying for the room, you're paying for the experience.  They have a few different kinds of rooms: 3 or so types of warm rooms, and 4 or so types of cold rooms.  They recommend only one night in a cold room, either your first or last night in the area.  I had to do my last night, just due to logistics and not spending shabbos there.  Also, I chose not to spend any additional nights there as even a warm room costs about $300/night.  The hotel I stayed in Friday night was pretty nice and $100.

I decided on the "cheapest" cold room, I thought it would be a barren and spartan room, but they actually made it pretty nice.  It doesn't compare to the art rooms or the art suites, but I wasn't planning on staying awake to admire the art.

A year or two ago they build another facility next door, called the 365.  As the name implies, it stays open all year.  The main hotel where I stayed melts and gets rebuilt each year.  All the rooms in 365 have doors with locks, while all the rooms in the main hotel have curtains.  I was given a stall at check-in to store all my stuff, change, etc.  The stall is located in the lodge right next door to the hotel, along with a large shower/bathroom/locker room/ sauna facility, and what they call the living room.  Pretty much, you live in the lodge except to sleep.

Shortly after I arrived there was a tour/lesson on how to "sleep cold."  The two main takeaways were don't wear a lot of layers, one is fine.  And don't pee in the room.  They can tell.  After that, I walked around both buildings to take pictures of the suites.  The artists they brings in do an INCREDIBLE job with the detail and themes.  The quality was much higher than the SnowVillage.  Here are a few pics, I have a ton more if people want to see.  Also, my pics truly don't do this place justice.

The main hotel on the right, and 365 on the left:



The ice chapel in the main hotel:



The main hallway:



Some of the art rooms and suites:















And this is outside each of the art rooms:





And my room, by contrast:



I still loved it and will discuss my actual experience in a bit.





Offline Aaaron

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2018, 09:04:07 AM »
Just to clarify one thing, the KP doesn't determine the strength of the aurora; that would be the Bz component. KP tells you how far south the auroral oval will be, so technically you could be at the perfect spot KP-wise and barely see anything due to the Bz component being high (negative numbers are better).

In your case, either the auroras were simply stronger further north, and they moved southward as the KP became stronger, or the Bz component went negative. So KP isn't the be all end all, rather one part of many in an exciting chase.

That's some great info that I wish I knew a few days ago   ;D
Hopefully all this will help the next people who go. 

Unless I got really lucky with the Bz component, there appeared to me a direct correlation between the strength and brightness I was seeing to the KP index that was being reported.

Offline AJK

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2018, 11:10:12 AM »
Those pics of the ice hotel are insane.
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Offline Dan

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Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2018, 11:18:46 AM »
Those pics of the ice hotel are insane.
+1
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