Monitor Assignment: Aurora Borealis

January 31, 2014 09:38 AM

Aurora borealis is the result of particles from the Earth's atmosphere colliding with similar particles from the sun. Commonly known as the Northern Lights, reports of sightings reach as far south as New Orleans, but are most common the farther north one travels. As partially fueled by solar activity, the intensity and frequency of sightings is tied to the sun's 11 year cycle and 2013-'14 finds us in a Borealis year.

As I was driving home last night, my wife and I were able to see Northern Lights in the sky above rural Grundy County, Iowa. I kicked myself all the way home for not having had my trusty camera with me at the time. I turn to you, the subscribers to make up for my failure to capture this natural wonder on film.

I had my brush with celestial wonder around 8:00pm, outside the city limits, away from light pollution. Scientists say the best time to see Northern Lights is around midnight local time -- wherever your locale may be -- but they can appear anytime after dark. I can remember standing outside the back of the barn on crisp winter nights with my dad, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wintry spectacle. I will be out on the open prairie this weekend with my camera ready and eyes on the sky.

Your homework this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to capture the elusive natural wonder, aurora borealis with your camera and send it to us here at the Monitor so that we may share your photos with the rest of our audience. Send your photos to or tweet them to @DavisMichaelsen.

As winter drags on, we must take advantage of the simple pleasures our natural world offers to help remind us that there is more to life than cold and snow. Remember to include your name (or alias) and what county and state your photo comes from. I look forward to your submissions so get your camera or camera phone ready, and spend some time this weekend looking up.

Be advised, this is not a contest, and by submitting photos, you agree to allow us to share them with our Inputs Monitor audience, and Pro Farmer Members. Original works only please.

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