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Aurora Penobscotis

I’m up in rural Maine, on the coast in the Deer Isle/Stonington area. This summer I do not have a project lined up like the 44 North or El El Frijoles ones from years past. To occupy my time when not kayaking or hiking, I have been experimenting with time-lapses and in particular trying to capture the spectacular night sky. When I was a kid in central New Jersey one could see the Milky Way. That hasn’t been the case in years, maybe decades, so it’s always a thrill to see it here in Maine.

Last night, in capturing a time-lapse from 7:55 PM to 9:17 PM an odd thing occurred. With the view looking southeast, across the water to an uninhabited island with a sparsely inhabited island behind it, a bright light appeared on the horizon right after sunset. It lasted for about an hour. It was visible to the naked eye and it felt like a full moon rising except that it was in the wrong part of the sky and that night was a new moon (no illumination) which had set a half-hour earlier.

I have never seen the Aurora Borealis so I’m wondering if this was small version of it. The color of the glow, reddish to greenish, seems to support the idea but I don’t know if other factors negate it.

What’s that leave? Leftover glow from the setting sun? Wrong part of the sky.

Light pollution caught by some low hanging clouds? Hard to imagine given the location, the window of time it was visible, its sharp delineation, and the lack of urban areas.

Here’s a snippet:

Here’s the view:

Map showing the view: blue dot looking southeast. Deer Isle, ME. August 25, 2014.
Map showing the view: blue dot looking southeast. Deer Isle, ME. August 25, 2014.

Maybe it was some wild, intensely bright partying at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts?…

The time-lapse was shot with a Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35 f/4 IS L lens @ 16mm. ISO 6400, f/4, 15 second exposures. And, yes, that’s the Milky Way moving through the right side of the frame in the video clip.


  1. Mark Dobson

    Hi Jon,

    unless i’m being particularly stupid today there is no link to your time-lapse within your post.

    best regards


  2. Mark – the video should be there, right after “Here’s a snippet:”….

    It embeds:

    . If you still don’t see it embedded in the blog post – let me know. I know it works fine in Safari on my MBP and my iPhone.

    Firefox can be flaky with Vimeo (but at a minimum there would be a black box saying it can’t play.) Chrome for iOS shows the video and it plays normally.

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