Awestruck Under the Aurora
By: Alan Dyer
|Camera:||Canon EOS 5D Mark II|
The sky simply does not get any more amazing than this, as the Northern Lights dance across the heavens.
On the last night for our first aurora tour group of the season, the sky performed perfectly. Clouds cleared to reveal a star-filled winter sky, and after the evening talks and farewell drinks, the aurora began to appear. First it was a bright arc across the north, prompting me to try some self-portraits, as below.
But at about 2 a.m. a diffuse arc across the zenith exploded into activity, with rapidly waving and weaving curtains.
Everyone was awestruck. Some cheered and hollered. Others just watched in stunned silence. Some were busy with cameras. Others just enjoyed the view of a lifetime.
It was a cold night, but the aurora kept performing in waves, dimming for a time – allowing us to retreat to the warm cafeteria for hot chocolate. Then the display would brighten again to the west and a new wave of intensity would sweep across the sky to the east.
You didn’t know quite where to look to take it all in. The sight was overwhelming. Here the curtains ripple through Orion, Taurus and Auriga, all setting into the west.
The Churchill Northern Studies Centre has a new building opened in 2011 that is ideally set up for aurora watching. The building can go dark, and is located far enough from Churchill that local light pollution is not an issue. On the roof is a plexiglas dome where several people can view the Northern Lights and the entire sky in shirtsleeve comfort. The image is good enough for wide-angle photography. Sheer luxury!
But there’s nothing like being outside on a cold Arctic night, looking up and seeing this sight – thin curtains of light twisting and turning more quickly than you can take in and comprehend. It is one of nature’s greatest shows. And what a fantastic place to see it.
– Alan, February 4, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer