(IAAC) aurora from missouri

What a night!  We got out to the observatory
about 2:30 with the moon still high in the sky
and the intention of doing nothing other than
installing digital setting circles on the 40". 
About 3:00 we noticed a glow in the northern sky
and realized it was the northern lights!  At
various times it appeared as a curtain spanning
about 130 degrees of the northern horizon, very
bright columns rising all the way to the zenith,
or sometimes a combination of both.  At times we
saw some very faint gray green/blue or faint red
coloration.  It was awe inspiring.  Add to this
some bright perseids at a rate of about 3/minute
(very rough estimate) and it made for quite a
site.  The intensity waxed and waned for the next
2 hours and 20 minutes.  The best show of all was
at about 5:00!  The sky was getting bright in the
north east signaling the coming dawn but the show
just would not stop!  We briefly wished that the
moon wasn't in the sky and that morning twilight
didn't start so soon but then we realized we were
lucky to be seeing the northern lights at all. 
We left about 5:20 and one very bright shaft was
still visible rising up to Polaris even though
the sky was quite bright.  We also got our first
look at Jupiter and Saturn using the 17 inch off
axis aperture mask.  They couldn't have been more
than 40 degrees up at the time but looked very
good at 556x using a 9 mm nagler.  The last 6
months or so have been the worst I can remember
for astronomy as far as the weather is
concerned.  This night almost made up for it!
Clear skies,
Mark Birkmann
from about 60 miles west of St. Louis Missouri,
about 38.5N, 91W
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