Clouds or northern lights?

Kit Lens Jockey

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Curious what you guys think of the streaks in the sky in this photo. There is obviously a lot of light coming from the town on the horizon, and I'm not sure if those are just clouds getting lit up by the town, or if those are very weak northern lights. You can see some very faint bands above the most noticeable parts that make me lean towards them being northern lights. I think the green showing through the trees on the right side of the photo is just lighting from a house somewhere down the shore.
 

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Hector1970

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Where is it taken? The further south you go in the Northern Hemisphere the less likely you are to see them. There could be a touch of them in the middle right of picture but it could be city lights.
 

Kit Lens Jockey

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This was near Lexington, Michigan. It's about halfway up the coast of the "thumb" of MI. This is looking south.
 

Don Haines

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dim northern lights on the horizon tend to look like this...(10 second exposure so they appear brighter in the picture than in real life)
 

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dak723

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Kit Lens Jockey said:
This was near Lexington, Michigan. It's about halfway up the coast of the "thumb" of MI. This is looking south.

Uh, well...Looking south, you say? Hmmm... that's a really big clue as to whether it could be the NORTHERN lights.
 

scyrene

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dak723 said:
Kit Lens Jockey said:
This was near Lexington, Michigan. It's about halfway up the coast of the "thumb" of MI. This is looking south.

Uh, well...Looking south, you say? Hmmm... that's a really big clue as to whether it could be the NORTHERN lights.

OMG I missed this! Although if you were in, say, Iceland or Northern Norway, it could be south of you (see satellite images).
 

Kit Lens Jockey

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dak723 said:
Kit Lens Jockey said:
This was near Lexington, Michigan. It's about halfway up the coast of the "thumb" of MI. This is looking south.

Uh, well...Looking south, you say? Hmmm... that's a really big clue as to whether it could be the NORTHERN lights.
Yes, they're known as "northern" lights, but how is that to say that they will most definitely appear to the north of any location you are standing at? I know that on very rare cases they have even been seen in Detroit. Granted, they would have been exceptionally strong to be seen in the midst of all of the light pollution, but what I'm getting at is that clearly if they can appear that far south, it is not out of the realm of possibility that they would appear to the south of the relatively dark area where I was standing, about halfway up the state.

However, I don't know enough about them to know whether or not they always originate at the north pole and spread south from there, or if they can appear randomly anywhere in the northern part of the world, like clouds.
 

Kit Lens Jockey

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Don Haines said:
dim northern lights on the horizon tend to look like this...(10 second exposure so they appear brighter in the picture than in real life)
Yes, the one time I definitely got photos of them, they had that distinct purple tapered color at the top, and the highlights in that photo are very monochromatic, so I am leaning towards them just being clouds.
 

Don Haines

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Kit Lens Jockey said:
Don Haines said:
dim northern lights on the horizon tend to look like this...(10 second exposure so they appear brighter in the picture than in real life)
Yes, the one time I definitely got photos of them, they had that distinct purple tapered color at the top, and the highlights in that photo are very monochromatic, so I am leaning towards them just being clouds.
Right now, we are at the minimum of the 11 year sunspot cycle, so the odds of seeing the northern lights are poor, but even in the minimums we get lucky. There was a solar storm last night, which usually means good auroras, but it was raining/snowing here so no view...

Look at spaceweather.com to get a prediction on what is happening above....
 

scyrene

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Don Haines said:
Kit Lens Jockey said:
Don Haines said:
dim northern lights on the horizon tend to look like this...(10 second exposure so they appear brighter in the picture than in real life)
Yes, the one time I definitely got photos of them, they had that distinct purple tapered color at the top, and the highlights in that photo are very monochromatic, so I am leaning towards them just being clouds.
Right now, we are at the minimum of the 11 year sunspot cycle, so the odds of seeing the northern lights are poor, but even in the minimums we get lucky. There was a solar storm last night, which usually means good auroras, but it was raining/snowing here so no view...

Look at spaceweather.com to get a prediction on what is happening above....

To be fair, regardless of the cycle, aurorae have been pretty good recently, and much of Britain has seen some in the last year or two...

As for north or south, check this image https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C8BtszbW4AAuCit.jpg - the aurora tends to be a bright band, so you can be either side of it, but it's mostly fairly far north.
 

tolusina

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Kit Lens Jockey said:
This was near Lexington, Michigan. It's about halfway up the coast of the "thumb" of MI. This is looking south.
I'd think that if those were Northern Lights seen looking south, the view northward would have been amazing.

I have seen Northern Lights in various parts of the L.P.. I have fond memories of a long ago weekend drive around Lake Huron that was lit up every night. I've seen them in Dearborn, city lights and all.