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9/11 Lights

This is a very rare and special photograph. It shows an extremely bright display of northern lights over the star on Mt. Gordon Lyon, northeast of the
city of Anchorage, Alaska. The star on the mountain (click the magnifying glass icon to see a close-up) is constructed of 350 ordinary 50-watt light
bulbs arranged in a 300-foot wide star pattern on the side of the mountain. It's visible up to 20 miles away, including throughout all of Anchorage. Historically, the star has been illuminated every night during the holiday season, usually from November to March. After the events of September 11,
2001, the star is now illuminated on the evening of September 11 every year to commemorate those who lost their lives in the attacks on the World
Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93. The star is then turned off on September 12 and remains off until the holiday

One of the best places in Anchorage to see the star is from a small lake near my house. I quickly realized that the view from the southwest shore of the lake, looking to the northeast toward the star, also sometimes coincides with the location of the northern lights when they shine over Anchorage. My goal became to capture a photograph of the northern lights shining over the illuminated star on September 11. However, there was a major problem. To get the photo I wanted, many factors would all have to come together at the same time. It had to be September 11, the star had to be lit, the sky had to be clear, there could be no wind to disturb the surface of the lake, there had to be northern lights, and the lights had to be over the star. A tall order indeed! I tried getting a photo in 2002, 2003, and 2004 but unfortunately all the elements didn't come together. On September 11, 2005 the forecast called for a clear sky and the possibility of northern lights. I grabbed may camera and headed over to the lake, where all the elements were in place except for the aurora. Finally, at just after midnight the sky exploded with this intense, but short-lived burst of northern lights directly over the star. After four years I finally had the shot I'd dreamed of getting!

Photo Number: 1ds2-01-4647

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