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John Flinn

On Halloween of 1991, the very night of the "Perfect Storm" in the North Atlantic, amateur astronomer John Flinn photographed the northern lights on a trip to Alaska. "I can imagine that fishermen in the eye of the storm saw the same aurora," he muses. In April of 2000, Flinn photographed the conjunction of three planets over Lookout Point Reservoir. "When I got the pictures back, I saw a glow in the sky that couldn't have been the sunset," he says. "I realized I could photograph the northern lights as far south as Oregon." His 1997 photo of Comet Hale-Bopp above the Three Sisters, silhouetted in an auroral glow, appears behind him in the portait. Flinn keeps an eye on websites that track solar flare activity. Though their x-ray light arrives in eight minutes, the charged particles that cause the aurora take two days to reach the atmosphere, giving him time to be ready in a suitable location. Flinn will give a benefit slide presentation at the Eugene Waldorf School this evening, March 23rd, at 7 pm. See his photographs and find tips on viewing the northern lights at celestialscenics.com.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 23 March 2006

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