The northern lights have always proven elusive. It seems that every time we think things will flare up, they fizzle instead. Sometimes the lights just appear out of nowhere. Of course, we need a specific set of circumstances on the sun and in outer space. Coronal mass ejections are essentially solar winds that create geomagnetic activity way up in the ionosphere. However, thatâ??s only part of the formula. We also need clear and calm conditions in the lower levels of the atmosphere, in a place called the troposphere. That's were our weather happens.
If conditions aren't perfect in any one of these places, your night will be a bust!
Lake Superior is another wild card. It plays a big role in our apparent weather year round. It's been so cold this winter that the big lake is nearly completely frozen over right now. And that ice cover makes a huge difference.
Matt Zika is a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Negaunee Township. He says, â??All the ice cover that's out there has already started to limit the lake effect cloud generation process, the lake effect snow processes across Lake Superior. So as we head through the next few weeks, we'll probably end up with a little bit less cloud cover.â??
With less cloud cover, our odds of actually seeing the northern lights are vastly improved. You might ask how can I maximize my odds of seeing and photographing the aurora borealis.
â??It's just keeping your eyes open. I would suggest following NOAA Space Weather. And they're usually real good about predicting when something might happen.â?? Thatâ??s according to Shawn Malone, co-owner of Lake Superior Photo which is located at 211 S. Front St in Marquette.
Shawn Malone has been capturing some of Upper Michigan's most beautiful moment for more than twenty years! With record cold temperatures this winter, the experienced observer makes it as easy as possible to get through the night.
â??Where it's below zero, I let the camera do all the work and you have to layer up. But itâ??s just so incredibly cold that I just put it on the tripod and just let the shutter keep clicking away and I sit in the car,â?? she said.
Stick to these guidelines and with a little luck youâ??ll be bragging to all your friends about your success! Donâ??t forget to share your photos with us here and on social media!
Click the links below for information on the northern lights and Shawn Maloneâ??s Lake Superior Photo!