Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sunshine Returns

January seems to have gotten away from me.  I lost interest in updating entries as my father's, Bud Helmericks, health worsened and he finally pasted away on the 27th of the month.  He was one of Arctic Alaska’s early explorers, author, and a Bush Pilot with over 27,000 hours of flight Bud Helmericks May-1952time, many of which were over uncharted territory.  His best known book is the “Last of the Bush Pilots”, a history of Alaska aviation. 

This picture was taken in May 1956 as he was getting ready to fly out over the Arctic Ocean, going as far as the North Pole area in his Cessna 170, the “Arctic Tern” 


Over the years, Dad’s birthday on January 18 has always been special; it coincided with the return of the sun after its winter retreat.   This year the the 18th was clear and Setting_SunFlash_6361cold with the temperature right at –40F/40C, and the sun was visible for just over an hour.  For the first few days the sun never gets more than a half of a degree above the horizon, just rolling along as it extends its travel east to west.  Here the sun is setting in the south and the cold temperatures are causing it to be effected by mirages. 

On January 19th I was able to get a picture of both a moon rise and sunset in the same photo. The moon still had three days to go to reach its first quarter, so is hard to see in the photo.  

Moon-Sun_6008 The new moon is in the left edge while the sun is setting in the right hand side.  A chilly day with the temperature at Minus 42F.

Even with all the bright cold days, the Aurora activity has remained low so there hasn't been very many opportunities for filming.  On two of the best nights, the wind chill was around –65F so I didn’t spend too much time outside with the camera.  I will end this with a few shots from those cold days.








Aurora Borealis streaks and bands over head, with just a touch of red in the upper areas.








A green band of Aurora that has a wing feather effect on one edge.









The cold weather created nice inversion layers, perfect conditions for great Superior Mirages. 

On some days the effect lasted for hours and it was like watching a kaleidoscope with all the changing shapes and colors.

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Arctic Smoke Signals by James W. Helmericks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.