Northern lights put on a show across South Dakota

South Dakota News

Photo from Randy Halverson.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Randy Halverson has been let down by northern lights forecasts before. 

But that didn’t stop the longtime time-lapse photographer from being prepared to capture a rare sighting of the northern lights in South Dakota. Halverson posted a few photos of the rare light show, which occurs when solar wind from the sun hits Earth’s upper atmosphere creating an aurora. 

“If you can see it pretty good with your naked eye it’s pretty strong,” Halverson said about watching the northern lights late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. “I didn’t stay up the whole night.”

On Monday, Halverson started shooting on his cameras at 11 p.m. on his farm near Kennebec in central South Dakota. He noticed the lights were shining brighter at around 1 a.m. and decided to switch memory cards and batteries to keep capturing the show in the sky while he went to bed at about 1:30 a.m. 

Halverson has done time-lapse photography for films and commercials and a collection of work on his website called DAKOTALAPSE. He said capturing last night’s aurora stands out because of how unpredictable the sun’s impact can have on creating the events big enough for people in places like South Dakota to see them. 

“The last few years, just because of the solar cycle, there’s not been very many sunspots,” Halverson said. “Eight or nine years ago, I’d catch it about four or five times. They’ve been pretty slow the last three years or so.” 

Halverson said he follows a northern lights forecast website called “Soft Serve News” which had posted an early alert about being able to see the northern lights. 

He said the northern lights always look better from photographers because the camera captures the moments with 5-second exposure and higher light sensitivity. 

“They’re pretty hard to catch, you just have be in the right place at the right time,” he said. 

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