“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:16-18)
The X9, which struck the earth on September 8, 2017, was the LARGEST solar flare in over a decade and the 14th largest in recorded history (since 1976). Aurorae from this geomagnetic storm were photographed even as far south as Arkansas, USA, which is on the same latitude as Texas (which borders Mexico)!
Rain, hail or shine, I was on my way to photograph the Aurora Australis…and that’s basically what happened. Tasmania had been lashed by 2 straight weeks of wild weather including heaps of rain and hail. Unfortunately, the initial impact of the X9 flare struck in the middle of Tasmanian daylight hours. However, white knuckled aurora photographers around Tasmania still went out hours later, hoping to catch some reverberations of the short lived but glorious X flares.
After the X9 there was also an X1.3, and as I began to head out that night the X1 was beginning to make initial contact.
The only (major) trouble was, the closer I got to Seven Mile Beach, the location I selected to photograph the Aurora Australis from, the more the clouds began to build (and aurora photographers all over southern Tasmania lamented the same trouble over social media).
As I was driving straight into the building clouds I remembered the Scripture verse James 5:16-18 (above). Elijah was a mighty prophet of God, yet the Scripture says he was a man just like us. I took God at his Word and began to pray that he would part the clouds to reveal the aurorae caused by this severe geomagnetic storm.
When I arrived at Seven Mile Beach there was 100% cloud cover with no end in sight over the Southern Ocean. As it started to gently rain upon my two Christian friends and I, we huddled together and prayed, “God, we pray you would please stop the rain, part the clouds and give us an awesome aurora to photograph”. Soon after that prayer the rain let up, and I walked up the sand dunes to get a view toward the south. The clouds seemed to be lightening and clearing! I took a test shot and, sure enough, there was green aurora starting to burst through the lightening clouds.
We earnestly prayed again, and miracle of miracles, the sky opened up and revealed a FANTASTIC display of the Southern Lights! I had never seen them so active, so high, so bright and so wide on the horizon as I did that night. It was MAGNIFICENT!
The aurora was rapidly pulsating, like a laser light show. I had never seen an aurora do that. Despite skepticism, yet amidst growing scientific evidence, my friends and I were also pretty certain we could hear this ultra-intense aurora, which sounded somewhat like clapping, thundering or crackling (interestingly, a few others around Tasmania also reported the same phenomena that night).
This panorama photograph of the Aurora Australis over Tasmania was taken when God opened up the heavens after our prayer. Praise the Lord!!!
This experience strongly reminded me of when, after three and a half years without rain or dew, Elijah earnestly prayed and God sent a torrential downpour of rain (but we prayed God would do the exact opposite).
It encourages me that God truly hears our earnest prayers and answers them. It encourages me to pray and never give up, even when things look impossible from our earthly perspective. We were SO extremely blessed by God! Praise you, Lord!!!
“…Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
‘Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
‘There is nothing there,’ he said.
Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’
The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’…the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on…”
(1 Kings 18:42-45)
For the photographers reading this: You might be amazed to learn that despite the full moon, the aurora was so bright that I shot at ISO 100 for much of the night. It was so bright that I could shoot a 1 second exposure at ISO 800 on f/1.8. That is crazy! This shot is an 8 second exposure, f/1.8 at ISO 200. The moon was so bright it illuminated the sand dunes in the foreground as if it were nearly daytime. Thankfully the moon was mostly at our backs the whole night and sometimes obscured by cloud.
(See also, “Elijah Rebuilding The Altar of The Lord (1 Kings 18)” (John the Baptist Artworks Series 2) , “Bushfire Aurora from Mt Wellington (Kunanyi)” (TASMANIA – Aurora Australis Tasmania and Night Photography Series) and “Aurora Australis Over Lighthouse Panorama (TASMANIA – Aurora Australis Tasmania and Night Photography Series”.)