July, 2005....J. Dana Hrubes...updated July 31, 2005 , 0700 GMT

Aurora backlighting the new elevated station

July at the Pole - Cold and Dark

July feels like the ultimate depth of winter because it is one of the coldest months of the year and because we are still quite far from the first hint of twilight on the horizon. August is actually colder on the average than July, but by late august the faint light of twilight begins to appear.  We have reached and exceeded -100 F many time this year so far, but I am hoping to break my own record of -108 F from last year.     -100F         When it hits -100F, it give us the opportunity to run the 300 club.  This is from the +200 F sauna outside to the geographic pole and back wearing nothing but a pair of boots.     300 club patch     

The geodesic dome backlit with an aurora and an Iridium satellite flare overhead (photo by K. Siman)

Photographing aurora during the year has been much more of a challenge that in previous years, because we are nearly at the solar minimum of the 11 year sunspot cycle so we are at the minimum of solar and hence geomagnetic activity. Although there are some good auroras out there, they have been lees predictable, lower in number and of much shorter duration than what I am used to. To increase my chances of seeing auroras, I have installed a webcam on some of my instrument displays in one of my labs so I can monitor it from my room or anywhere on station.     web cam image      One of the best indications of an aurora in progress is rapid fluctuations in the earth's magnetic filed, called micropulsations.      magnetic field disturbance with aurora      

Even with the challenges of photographing auroras there were some beautiful displays this month:     
SETI telescope and aurora:  (1)    (2)   

Beer can and aurora:   (1)     (2)  

Skylab and aurora:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)  

Dome and aurora:   (1)   (2)  

self portrait and aurora        self portrait with iridium flare and telescope tower    

Iridium flare with aurora    (1)   (2)   (3)   

Other auroras    (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)    (6)   (7)

The moon up for two weeks this month.          dome backlit by the moon           long exposure of skylab at full moon   

We are observing stars in our galaxy 24 hours a day now, searching for extrasolar planets. The SETI Institute's new web site is:
http://www.polartransits.org            Iridium flare over telescope tower       

Glen Kinoshita (glen's website) has been taking some fantastic time lapse sequences again this winter.  In these videos you can seen auroras over the Atmospheric Research Observatory and also you can see Iridium satellite flares every nine minute near the constellation Grus, near the top of the image.   aurora and iridium flare movie #1   aurora and iridium flare movie #2        aurora and iridium flare movie #3      glen with his heated camera box     

I got a photograph from my friend Kris who was at Palmer Station on the coast of Antarctica working on the meteorology tower a few months ago. He has a fantastic view from the tower.          view from met tower    

NEXT MONTH:  colder days and a hint of twilight    

      A Real-Time Photo of South Pole Station as Seen from the ARO Building (live when satellite is up)

      A Comprehensive South Pole Web Site by Bill Spindler

       Winterover Web Pages (Bill Spindler's List)