To understand what you are looking at, this image requires some explanation.

 

People frequently ask me… "What causes auroras?". So I had the idea of trying to create an image that would depict both an aurora and its "source" in the same photograph.

 

The primary catalyst for auroral activity is the sun…charged particles are thrown off into space and makes up a plasma called the "solar wind". Some of this "wind" intercepts Earth, and although our planet's magnetic field deflects most of the plasma, some gets funneled into the upper atmosphere near the north and south poles where the magnetic field is weaker. The charged particles interact with atmospheric gases and create the glow of an aurora. Much of the solar plasma, released in the form of flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), emanates from regions called "sunspots"… relatively cool dark areas on the solar surface, (the average "spot" is about twice the diameter of the Earth). It takes approximately two days for the solar palasma to reach the Earth.

 

The large red object in the upper right of this image is the sun, and you will notice a few sunspot groups (especially the large group on the left). I photographed the sun through a telescope with a special solar filter (NEVER look directly at the sun without a special solar filter!). As it happened, there was a CME the day I photographed the sun. Two nights later, when the energy from the CME reached Earth, I exposed the same frame of film, capturing the resulting aurora. I have titled this double exposure photograph "Cause and Effect".

Cause and Effect