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Coaster captures 'magical' northern lights on camera

As the aurora borealis stretched across much of Canada, photographer John Preissl documented the vibrant colours above Secret Cove on the Sunshine Coast.

A geomagnetic storm set off camera shutters on Thursday night as people across Canada tried to capture the high activity — aurora borealis — the storm caused. 

Photographer John Preissl in Secret Cove caught multiple vibrant colours through 10 to 30 second exposures on his iPhone 13 Pro Max: hues of purples and greens. Though blues and greens are more common, purple can be visible when solar activity is high. 

“It was magical,” Preissl said.

The March 23 lights come less than a month after another northern lights appearance on the Coast. On Feb. 28, Preissl witnessed the aurora borealis, though it was not nearly as visible to the naked eye as this week’s events. 

Preissl is a professional photographer who moved to the Sunshine Coast three years ago. He has attempted to capture images of the aurora borealis for the last four or five years, but arranging the right set up at the right time can be difficult. The dark skies above the Coast are “literally a photographer’s dream,” he commented. 

“Last night was so vibrant and clear. For quite a few hours, almost every shot we took was just phenomenal. When you take 10 to 30 seconds in the cold, you have to have extreme patience.”

It was around 11 p.m. at night on March 23 when Preissl saw the lights from his home in Secret Cove. “I think that was the best I’ve ever seen them on the south coast,” Preissl told Coast Reporter the next day. 

Preissl plans on being out again on Friday night, this time armed with his Sony camera, “willing this cloud cover to go away.”

If you weren’t one of the lucky spectators on March 23, keep your eyes on the sky — the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects the northern lights to be active again on Friday and Saturday night where there isn’t cloud coverage. The geomagnetic storm is anticipated to continue and peak on March 25, and potentially extend into Monday and Tuesday.

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With files from Vancouver is Awesome

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