The Aurora Borealis, From Above & Below; Adapting to a Changing Great Lakes Coast

Explore the Unknown!


Please share this missive with your friends & neighbors. 

If you’ve already registered for a previous WN@TL zoom this year, you’re good—you don’t have to register again.

Continue to use the link found in the confirmation message Zoom sent you when you first registered.

If you’ll be watching for the first time, please register for the WN@TL Zoom at 

WN@TL begins at 7:00pm Central


For June 23, 2021


Hi WN@TL Fans,


Sunday was the summer solstice, and we are basking in the longest days and shortest nights of the year.  Noontime gives us the crisp light of an Edward Hopper painting of a seaside cottage, while the lakeside sunset bestows the lingering aura of the Golden Hour.


But the sun’s powers to impress are not limited to our waking hours.  On lucky nights we stand in silent awe at the Aurora Borealis, a combined gift of the sun’s radiance and of the Earth’s magnetism.


These curtains of shifting colors shimmer and undulate across the northern sky.  I always expect a score from some celestial Theremin to accompany the luminous show spun by the magnetosphere.  So far, all the good vibrations come from the light alone.


This week, we get to see how humans see and image the aurora from above as well as from below.  And what a show it is!



Margaret Mooney (left) and Dixie Burbank


OJune 23 Margaret Mooney from NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) joins with Dixie Burbank of Dixie J. Digital to share insights into how researchers and sky gazers can view the Northern Lights from earth and from the heavens.  They will compare and contrast the photographer’s perspective with satellite imagery of the Aurora Borealis.


Bio:  Margaret Mooney works for NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellites (CIMSS) at the UW-Madison. A favorite part of her workday is checking whether satellites captured the aurora overnight!

Bio:  Dixie J Burbank is a travel enthusiast and amateur night photographer who extends travel opportunities to groups for affordable trips to view and photograph the Northern Lights. Offering unique experiences from Dixie J Digital, she has traveled since 2012 to destinations under the auroral oval, giving people the opportunity to see areas that boast the best potential for light displays. She assists travelers with camera settings and the basic photography skills necessary to capture the lights. Her adventures feature local sights and side trips, with the goal of experiencing local culture. Dixie’s groups have traveled to Alaska, Finland, and Norway, sharing lodging and meal expenses to make the trips affordable, while remaining flexible to sight-see as much as possible with a focus on the night sky. With her Aurora Chasing Travelogue, she shares pointers and advice with like-minded people in search of observing and photographing the Northern Lights in locations best known for dynamic, mind-blowing auroral displays.


Her portion of the presentation will show examples of aurora photographs compared to the predictions and forecasts and what those forecasts mean for viewing. She will compare activity in the southern Wisconsin area versus areas directly under the auroral oval. Many of these nights will correlate with the satellite images presented by Margaret.




This talk is part of the annual collaboration between CIMMS and Wednesday Nite @ The Lab, in coordination with the yearly CIMSS Weather Camp for students from all across the US.




For the fifth Wednesday this June, on the 30th, Adam Bechle of Wisconsin Sea Grant will describe the drivers and impacts of the fluctuating water-levels of the Great Lakes.


Description:  “Adapting to a Changing Great Lakes Coast”   Great Lakes water levels have been well above average for several years, with some lakes setting all-time record highs. These high water conditions, in combination with coastal storms, have caused flooding and erosion throughout the region. Under a changing climate, lake levels may reach even higher highs as well as lower lows. This talk will discuss the current high water conditions on the Great Lakes and the actions communities are taking to adapt to a changing coast.


Bio:  Adam Bechle is a coastal engineering specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant. In this role Adam helps Great Lakes communities build resilience to coastal hazards by communicating the latest hazard research and data, developing education and outreach products on best management practices, and providing local governments guidance to identify opportunities to better plan and prepare for coastal hazards. Adam holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin Madison.





Remember, we continue to meet by Zoom, since we can’t gather all in one room.


However, as is our tradition the week of the summer solstice, we’ll gather at the Memorial Union Terrace at about 8:45 pm this Wednesday, to celebrate the longest Wednesday of the year.  I’ll buy.


Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!


Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H