Visual Art

Video of Northern Lights Over Lake Wissota Gets Worldwide Audience

time lapse by UWEC prof and photographer Justin Patchin captured interest of Good Morning America, other international news sites

Rebecca Mennecke, photos by Justin Patchin |

A local photographer's breathtaking video of the northern lights over Lake Wissota in Chippewa Falls has captured national – and international – attention. 

On Saturday, March 20, at about 4am, UW-Eau Claire professor and photographer Justin Patchin was prepared. He had tracked the possibility of the northern lights being visible with the help of a website called SpaceWeatherLive as well as through fellow enthusiasts.

“That particular night, I knew there was a possibility,” he said, “But the data didn‘t look great early in the night, so I went to bed. I just happened to wake up at 3am and looked at the data, and it was amazing, so I rushed out.”

I knew there was a possibility. ... it was amazing.

Justin Patchin

Local photographer

The time lapse, which compiles about 400 still images (nearly 1,000 fewer than all of the pictures he took in total), depicts the northern lights dancing over Lake Wissota with striking colors. Those bold colors were only possible because Patchin used a longer shutter speed of about four seconds, which allowed the colors to pop – much more than Patchin’s eyes could see on that brisk morning. 

“Apparently (the lights) fired up around 1am or so that morning,” Patchin said, “and there were a few really incredible bursts, like the 15-20 minutes or so condensed into the 40-second time lapse.” 

Since he posted it to Facebook on March 20, it has been shared by news sites such as Good Morning America, Yahoo, Yahoo UK, The Australian, Fox News affiliates, Newsweek, The Daily Telegraph, and more. 

But, despite the beauty of this video, this isn't Patchin's first run-in with the northern lights, as the prolific writer and photographer has captured these brilliant astronomical phenomena before, and even wrote an essay for Volume One a few years ago, which you can read here

Check out more of Patchin’s work at

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Best of Chippewa Falls is brought to you by:

Mason Companies, Inc
Northwestern Bank