Exploring the Northern Lights

After a late dinner yesterday evening in Palmer, I headed out into the dark Alaskan wilderness for a night of Aurora hunting. Shortly after 0100 hours (AKST) the Aurora magically appeared and I was fortunate to capture a few pics. And then, just as fast as it appeared, it disappeared. If you look closely, you will also be able to discern the big dipper. While sitting in this vast unspoiled tundra, I saw two falling stars. Phot by David Taylor

By David Taylor

Back in September I trekked to Alaska in search of the Northern Lights. I have to say I was not disappointed with the results. The vastness of the Alaskan sky is amazing, nearly overwhelming in how much and how far you can see.

Truthfully, words seem to escape me.

The landscape is stunningly spectacular here in Alaska. As you can see, the Northern Lights are a beautiful night light to the terrain.

It is simply amazing to see with your own eyes. It’s difficult to put into words beyond it being one of God’s great creations.

It brings to mind to me the scripture Psalms 147:4 – He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. [KJV].

In this image captured from my last night of Aurora hunting, I was fortunate enough to catch a falling star over a faint glow of the northern lights caressing the horizon. Photo by David Taylor

What a spectacle to behold is about all I can say about catching a shooting star with the Northern Lights. If you’ve ever seen a shooting star then you know how amazing just that sight is, but with the Northern Lights… it just becomes breath taking.

From the scientific look at the Northern Lights, according to our friends at Wikipedia, an aurora[a] (plural: auroras or aurorae[b]), also known as the polar lights or aurora polaris[c], is a natural light display in Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic). Auroras display dynamic patterns of brilliant lights that appear as curtains, rays, spirals or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky.[2]

Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind. These disturbances alter the trajectories of charged particles in the magnetospheric plasma. These particles, mainly electrons and protonsprecipitate into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere). The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emit light of varying colour and complexity. The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both polar regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles.

Most of the planets in the Solar System, some natural satellitesbrown dwarfs, and even comets also host auroras.

From my standpoint, should you get the chance to see the Northern Lights, you definitely take it.

More from Alaska coming up.


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