Life in Riverton: Hunting for the northern lights

February 24, 2012


Carmelitta Tiffany


mcp blogger


Another great thing about living in the country is the night sky. With no “light pollution” from city lights, the night sky in the country is a sight to behold. The stars are so brilliant and when there are celestial events, like meteor showers, lunar eclipses, or, the most beautiful sight of all, northern lights, the black curtain is painted with light.


We seldom have a chance to witness these events, and sometimes we just miss them because we don’t take the time to look, but this winter has been one of the most prolific opportunities for northern lights watching.


Some people try to photograph them, and many are successful. The most remarkable shots of the local sightings of northern lights, in my humble opinion, are those recently done by father-and-son team, Todd and Brad Reed. Todd captured some off the south breakwall in Ludington harbor, and Brad trekked out to the Big Sable Point lighthouse and took a radiant and haunting photo of the lights around the light.

I decided to try my hand Saturday night, as the sky was clear and it wasn’t too cold outside. I am the first to admit that I am a mediocre photographer at best, but sometimes luck is your best friend when you’re trying an endeavor that you haven’t braved before.


I had a fresh battery in my Canon Rebel Xti and my tripod all set up. I monitored my Facebook page to see if there were any reports of sightings, and when a friend from Petoskey noted that he was seeing them, I popped outside to see what I could see at around 10 p.m. There was a hint of light off to the north, but I wasn’t sure that they weren’t the lights from Scottville. At 10:30, still nothing to note.


Then there were postings from one of my friends in Ludington of remarkable photos she’d just shot from the Ludington State Park area, and that boosted my resolve to try again.


I bundled myself up, had my ferocious watchdog Charlie there by my side, and went outside at midnight, hoping to see something, but not an aura or a streak or anything. I managed to shoot some stars, but that was not what I was after.


Then I realized that even the stars would be a neat photo to post, as our readers who don’t live in the country seldom get to see even them. So, I found a reasonably clear photo of the constellation Orion that I captured in my quest for the northern lights, and here it is.


It just goes to show that sometimes you don’t get what you wish for, but there is usually a hidden blessing there if you take the time to look for it.


So there you go- another week in the Life of Riverton….


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