Earlier this week, space weather forecasters indicated we were in the midst of a strong, G-3 level geomagnetic storm. The Kp Index ran between 5-7 for two days straight, signalling a strong probability that auroras would be present in the night skies. So when darkness settled in Wednesday night, a friend and I headed to Peterson Park to do some night photography, hopefully of auroras.
No one was at the park when we arrived, so we set up our gear on the platform overlooking Lake Michigan. The night was clear and crisp. We were happy we'd dressed warmly because the breeze off the lake was cold. The constant lapping of the water at the shoreline below serenaded us the whole time we were there. Large swaths of white light across the sky made us hopeful that we'd see auroras.
The sky was magnificent! We even saw an occasional shooting star. As I started taking test shots to the north, I wasn't picking up the bright green or red colors that I usually associate with the northern lights. Instead, the sky had a faint greenish cast to it. Near the horizon, however, there was a band of ocher coloring. I wondered if these were auroras.
Towards the southwest, I saw a similar green cast to the sky, but the band near the horizon was more fiery-appearing. It looked like the sun had just set, but I knew that had occurred nearly three hours ago.
I continued to search the skies for auroras by taking shots of the sky from different positions with various exposure settings hoping to coax some auroras from the faint green sky, but this was about as close as I got.
Behind us clouds from the east began drifting in, effectively occluding any color to the sky. Relaxed from the constant wave action of the Lake, we packed our gear and headed home. Had we seen auroras? Maybe. They certainly weren't like the auroras I'd seen in the past, but there was color to the sky probably indicative that we'd seen some kind of auroral activity.