An oddball sky glow endearingly named “Steve” captivated aurora chasers from the moment they first spotted and photographed the unique light display over Canada in 2016.
Steve somewhat resembled an aurora, but its sky-climbing ribbons and ladders of purple and green light were distinctly different in shape and behavior from those produced by a typical aurora.
Since then, Steve has intrigued not only hobbyist skygazers but also astronomers from NASA — and filmmakers, too. “Chasing Steve,” a new documentary that was screened Dec. 9 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), highlights the efforts of citizen scientists and researchers alike, as they race to capture Steve’s unearthly beauty and define the electromagnetic forces that shape it.
“We were so taken with this really great story,” said Leah Mallen, who co-produced and co-directed the film with Jess Fraser. “This advancement of digital photography really allowed for new types of aurora photography to be introduced. People had longer exposures, higher resolution; people who were hobbyists were taking things to a new level,” Mallen told Live Science.