Saturday, April 10, 2010

Whirlwinds of the Northern Sky . . .

"And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north,
a great cloud,
and a fire infolding itself,
and a brightness was about it,
 and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber,
out of the midst of the sky."
- Ezekiel: Chapter I, verse 4
[Authorized King James Version]

The Northern Lights — more elegantly known as aurora borealis, or dawn wind — set northern skies ablaze at the coming of spring and on in to the end of summer.

Caused by the collision of charged particles carried to Earth on solar winds, these shimmering celestial curtains have been attributed to the glinting armor of Valkyries, the fireside dancing of Algonquin spirits and — in Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass trilogy — a physical source of wisdom.

In a less mythological vein, they’re also great fun to simply view and photograph.

My flatlander friends are always amazed by this natural *laser show* whenever they are fortunate enough to be visiting me on Drummond at the right time and we are in the right place.

And they always end up asking - does this happen all the time?
If not, when is a good time to view the Northern Lights?

If, like my friends, you want to know more, here are the two websites I always recommend:

First the Geophysical Institute in Alaska is one of the hotspots for information about viewing the aurora borealis - aka the northern lights. In their excellent Aurora FAQ, they answer the question: "Can you predict when and where there will be aurora?" (they say you can, but with less confidence than weather prediction.)

The other site I like is Porter Johnson's Northern Lights  Porter has this to say about the Northern Lights in his introduction: "The Northern Lights are nature's light show, with quantum leaps in oxygen and nitrogen atoms in an impressive display of luminous curtains and rays that dance above the tundra. They involve the interplay of elementary particle physics with superstition, mythology, and fairy tales . . . "

What's not to love? Physics, superstition, mythology,
and fairy tales all rolled into one awesome light show! 


Leslie said...

I've visited Drummond for 59 years, and have NEVER seen the Northern Lights! Your photos are amazing. Thanks so much for posting!

Jessie said...

I am from Cedarville and I am so sad to have missed this! I saw all my friends from home posting about this on Facebook! Thanks for sharing your pictures!

Candis Collick said...

Jessie - My pleasure! If you go to the *Drummond Island MI* Facebook page you will find lots more photos posted from last night's amazing show that was viewed all across the U.P. Enjoy!