I am in bed for the first time in 48 hours and it is not until the 49th that I start thinking I might never be able to fall asleep again. I feel only slightly worried that there is something amazing wrong with my eyes. Every time I close them, I have my own personal light show flashing against my eyelids. Bands of rapidly falling green light come in flashes and disappear into infinity in purple hues – only to start up again as soon as I think it is over. That’s what happens when you stare at a psychedelic sky for too long.
Eventually I drift into a spectacular dream and when I wake up in the morning, I check my pockets to see if what I grabbed in my dream was still there.
Indeed it was. Not quite in my pockets or flickering on the bookshelf like I subconsciously fantasized, but stored on my camera’s memory card are over four hundred luminescent photographs of the Northern Lights. Three nights in a row I watched it pirouette above snow covered mountains, leaving me with crazy eyes and a smile now stuck on my face forever.
I must confess. I am slightly obsessed with the Aurora Borealis. Even on cloudy nights I have been running outside ever so often to see if it came for a visit. That is what it does in my opinion. It comes for a visit like an air hostess does on trans Atlantic flights, late while everyone is sleeping. If you weren’t awake when she came round, you aren’t getting wine. Unlike with a flight attendant, you can’t run after this. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Or so I thought.
Like a fire needs fuel, the lights also need stoking. I don’t know what stokes it, but something of a chemical reaction on an astronomical scale happens when it flares up. There could be only a slight green glow when, bam – suddenly the blackness of space gives way to warping bright bands of dancing light that hurtles across hundreds of kilometers in a few seconds. If the word hallelujah had to look like something, it will look like the Northern Lights.
I love the night sky. I can, and do, stay up for hours watching stars. Standing under a dark starry sky questioning the astronomical relativity of it all is like spin bike training for your brain. But looking at this phenomenon is next level.
It is so big and mysterious and beautiful that it really is very hard to narrate. Scientifically it makes sense. Charged particles that travel from the Sun collide with atoms in our atmosphere and that bumps electrons in the atoms to higher energy states. When these electrons drop back down to a lower energy state it releases photons, which we interpret as the Aurora. It is truly a visual manifestation of the power of Earths magnetic field. North American Natives believe it is the spirits of their ancestors that watch over them. When I saw it scintillate at full volume across the empyrean, I felt so moved and had this sudden beautiful reassurance that a God most definitely exists.
Somewhere inside me the lights are still dancing, and I don’t think it will ever stop as long as I am part of this universal mass of energy. I don’t have a bucket list as I feel that a list eliminates all the other things you could have experienced in life. But if you have this one on yours and you haven’t ticked it off yet, I suggest you make it your top priority.
Of all the wonderful things I have seen in my life, I can honestly say that experiencing the Aurora Borealis is the most beautiful. It is so beautiful to me because it is a gift from the heavens above, free of charge, there for anyone to see. It made me cry. It made me dance. It made me realize my immense fortune I have. It filled me with a new lust to keep wandering and wondering. It made me appreciate my eyesight ten fold. It made my dreams come true. It made me believe.
Most of these images were exposed between 4 and 8 seconds with relatively high ISO values at f4.5.
To have seen this with you Tam is the most magical experience of my life, so far. Thanks for being the best adventure partner I could ever have asked for