Impressions of a remarkable night: April 6/7 2000


A conjunction of three planets and the moon: the small moon cressent was accompanied by Saturn (top), Jupiter (bright, right of the moon) and Mars (fainter, close to Jupiter).
Photo at 19.30 UT with a 2.5/135 mm lens, 2 seconds on Kodak Ektachrome 400 (pushed to ISO 800). The conjunction is seen here over the river De Vecht, near Utrecht.


From 21.00 UT on April 6 until 01.00 UT at April 7 a fantastic Aurora display was seen from my hometown Utrecht in the Netherlands. At 20.45 UT the first sign of the aurora was seen: a long vertical red cloud in the north-east. This was followed by activity in the north-west from 21.00 UT-22.30 UT. There were several red clouds with white-yellow streamers appearing from time to time. Most of these streamers lasted for one ore two minutes. Near the northern horizon the sky was a bright green-blue. Activity dropped and only weak activity was seen after 22.00 UT.
At 22.45 Ut auroral activity was seen at the northern/north-western horizon: in a green-blue band (no more than 10 degrees above the horizon) a pattern of constantly changing vertical lines was seen. This remarkable event ended at about 23.00 UT, and it looked as if the auroral activity ended. But one look outside the window at 23.15 UT made my heart bounce at maximum speed! Several bright red clouds were visible, much brighter and much more extended than before. In less than five minutes more than half of the sky was covered with aurora! The colour was blood-red, with intense yellow streamers in a constantly changing pattern. The northern horizon was now intense green-blue, up to 30 degrees. The red clouds were positioned in the north-east and north-west. It looked if they were connected by a faint white band.
This activity lasted at least until 00.00 UT. At that time I went inside. At 00.45 UT when I looked out again not a single trace of aurora was seen. But when at 01.00 UT I finally went to bend another red glow was seen in the north-north-east.
Aurora in the north-west where winter constellations Auriga and the Twins are setting. Photo made at 21.00 UT.

The Big Dipper (in the zenith) bathing in the red glow of Aurora.
Northern Lights: Polaris in the Little Bear is in the top op this photograph.
The green glow in the north-western sky with a curtain of streamers.
All aurora photographs were made with a 2.8/28mm lens on Kodak Ektachrome 400 film (pushed to ISO 800). Exposures range from 5 seconds up to 20 seconds.

Click on images for a larger picture.

Copyright: Robert Wielinga, Utrecht, Netherlands (

A very intense yellow streak near Castor and Pollux in the Twins.

The coronal mass ejection (CME) that caused this strong auroral activity. This time sequence was made with the coronagrah of the SOHO spacecraft.