In honor of the Lights, caused by a wonderful solar storm, I want to share with you my favorite story from two years ago when an even more intense storm occured, which is where this photos are from (these are not mine, but belong to Nick Gapp).
Now, for the story. (I should have some photos from this one and I will have another story!) I was going to save this for when the website gets upgraded, but I will do this now, and update tomorrow. In time for another northern lights story and a discussion of what they are.
Summertime in the south is a wonderful thing if for no other reason than shorts can be worn 24 hours. But, the barren north has its benefits.
For example: the only thing that makes the north barren is the lack of population density. This fact is a great gift because it allows us to, on a clear night, see the sky. Witness shooting stars and northern lights dance across the heavens.
One of my favorite examples occurred during the summer of 2015. I was interning in a northern town, well populated, and had found out from one of the project engineers that the northern lights were supposed to be spectacular.
Now, my friend Jake had been dragged out to the country at least four times by this point, only to witness nothing more than a faint glow. That is to say, he was not game to go on a work night and be left disappointed, again.
But, I had my neighbor Alison on my side. She was from the east coast and had never seen the northern lights. She hadn’t ever been disappointed.
So, the three of us piled into his Durango that, that night, was running without any issues.
“Go out of town east, and take a left at the gas station. Keep going until you see the old radio tower, then park on the hill next to it. It’s a five minute drive, but the lights are blocked there.” Those were the instructions we followed.
After Jake parked we crawled onto his hood, Alison, then Jake, then I, looking at the stars. It was around midnight when we headed out- already dark- and the stars were out.
But the northern lights were not.
Still in a strange city, we would jump anytime a car turned down the road we were parked on. I think at one point one of the four cars we saw asked us what we were doing.
“Star gazing – the lights are supposed to come out tonight.”
They looked at us like we were crazy, but left us alone.
After about a half hour of chatting, and our eyes getting used to the dark, we saw a white mist above us. It was more than Jake and I had ever seen before.
And it continued to grow. Lighter and denser, the light twisted above us and then began to pillar – forming columns that danced.
Only photos – and perhaps being farther north – will show the colors that the movies show.
But it was still beautiful and worth going out on a work night to see them.
You don’t need alcohol to witness something amazing.
This photo is the sole property of Nick Gapp.