Aurora Borealis near the Quad Cities
Photographs by David Renneke
December 14, 2006 - 8:00 to 8:30 pm CST

These photos of the aurora borealis were taken with a 6 megapixel digital camera. The exposure was 16 seconds at f2.8.  Click on any of the photos to see a larger image. The location was in a field northwest of Davenport, Iowa looking north. The first and the third pictures also show the big dipper.

Here is a plot of the estimated planetary K-index for Dec. 14. Read about the interplanetary magnetic field. For the latest information on solar activity go to Here is their spectacular aurora gallery for December, 2006.

On the same evening, the picture on the right was taken by Stan Richard. He was at Saylorville Lake north of Des Moines, Iowa. He reports lots of movement and pulsations, nice flowing curtains and some beautiful red beams.

This picture was featured as the Astronomy Picture of the Day on Dec. 18, 2006.

This photo was taken on Dec. 14, 2006 from a distance of 830 km above the Earth by a US Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite.

The bright arc stretching from Montana to Maine is the aurora borealis. In many places it completely overwhelms the city lights below.

"The DMSP satellite has the ability to detect auroral light at night," says Paul McCrone of the Air Force Weather Agency at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. "These images are mosaics of various DMSP overflights on Dec. 12-13, Dec. 13-14, and Dec 14-15. The Dec. 14th image is quite striking."