On spaceweather.com the front page has an amazing picture of the auroras that was taken maybe 25 miles west of me. I couldn’t see anything here. Was it the lights from the city? Salt in the air? It was clear here so I know it wasn’t clouds. I am in Portland, Maine and the picture was taken in Casco.
I’d guess light from the city. Auroras are pretty faint lights, and light pollution from cities is definitely enough to drown them out.
the display can be dim and doesn’t occur everywhere.
city lights even neighboring street, yard and house lights can put up enough light to obscure it.
Agree that it’s light pollution. You have to get out of the city to see anything.
You don’t necessarily need to get out of the city, if you can block off the horizon (where most of the light pollution is) and if it’s a really good show. I’ve seen them from the middle of Bozeman, a city of about 30,000. But it really, really helps.
What time were you out looking? As near as I can tell, the display peaked around 9-9:30. Which, incidentally, coincided with cloud cover here.
Also, the photo from Casco was taken with a digital camera and might not accurately portray the actual brightness of the aurora. So it may have been dimmer than you were expecting.
there is a lot of technique to get a photo of an aurora, digital or film.
it does enhance the image above that of your eye.