It probably won't do much to convince those who believe Alaska's High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) facility is controlling either the weather or our minds, but the latest video from the SKYGLOW team reveals the beauty of the sky above the site.
In 1993, three arms of the US military – the Air Force, Navy, and DARPA – and the University of Alaska Fairbanks established HAARP to study the ionosphere. By sending radio signals into the upper atmosphere and examining the reflections, HAARP does both basic research and explores the possibility of using reflected waves for communications and surveillance. Somehow this facility became the center of some spectacularly wacky conspiracy theories, including mind control, manipulating the weather, and even making caribou walk backward.
The ionosphere is the part of the upper atmosphere where solar radiation has knocked electrons off the sparse molecules, leaving them positively charged within a soup of electrons. Solar activity can cause disturbances in the ionosphere, producing auroras, and the charge can also bend or reflect radio waves, allowing for communication beyond direct lines of sight.
Presumably because of the military involvement, conspiracy theorists have decided HAARP couldn't just be a way to learn about the sky above, or even for intelligence services to keep an eye on things happening in places otherwise hidden by the curve of the Earth.
No, apparently this relatively modest facility is steering hurricanes so they can destroy cities the government doesn't like (in one particularly curious version, the Democrats still got to control HAARP despite losing the presidency), and messing with the brains of those who displease it. Nor are these claims purely the realm of the politically marginalized. Former president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez blamed HAARP for the devastating Haitian Earthquake of 2010, which killed at least 100,000 people.
In 2014, HAARP, having been entirely transferred to University of Alaska control, decided to let anyone who wanted to come and visit it. New management hoped if some people saw what HAARP is actually doing, they'd be less inclined to believe it's secretly running the world.
As part of this outreach program, SKYGLOW, famous for producing time-lapse videos of stars, clouds, and meteors over famous monuments made HAARP the site of their latest project. The footage was taken this winter, well away from the peak of solar activity, but still includes some spectacular images of auroras, a product of the facility being located so close to the north magnetic pole.
The release coincides with the disturbing discovery that light pollution, the phenomenon the SKYGLOW project was started to bring attention to, has infiltrated more than half the world's Key Biodiversity Areas, affecting the behavior of nocturnal animals, plants and even microbes in places far from major cities we think of as truly wild.