Northern Lights

aurora-borealis1.jpgThe first time I saw them, I was camping out in Nova Scotia on an isolated sliver of a peninsula that jutted out into the choppy Atlantic Ocean. As I’d done since I was a kid, I threw my sleeping bag on the ground so I could have a clear view of the night sky. It was the new moon, so I was anticipating some magnificent stargazing.

What I wasn’t anticipating was what happened next. All of a sudden and out of nowhere, I saw a ribbon of colored light dance across from one end of the sky to the other. It was accompanied by a singular swishing sound.

Not only had I never seen the Aurora Borealis before, I’d never even heard about the phenomena. It made the hair on the back of my neck and arms stand straight up. The show went on for hours and I was spell-bound. It was an oddly spiritual experience. And I’ve been lucky enough to see several displays since.

So when I opened the email from a friend in northern Canada, and saw this photo and her description of her experience, I had to smile. Getting to see the Aurora Borealis sure is a spectacular reminder on a very elemental level of the wonder of the universe.

If you’re ever offered the chance to go somewhere where you can see them, it’s well worth the effort.

And if you’ve never heard of them before and don’t know what they are, the aurora borealis, or northern lights, are beautiful, intricate, and rapidly changing colored lights that shoot across the night sky. They typically only occur in the extreme northern and southern latitudes when solar wind particles collide with air molecules in the upper earth’s atmosphere.

Displays can vary in intensity from a glowing curtain of greenish-yellow lights, to a spectacular, multi-colored fusion stretching across the sky.

If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in the right place with the right conditions — far enough north (or south) on a clear cloudless night, close to the new moon, and away from town lights –maybe you, too, will be gifted with the light show of a lifetime.

8 thoughts on “Northern Lights”

  1. It is truly a gift to get to see this. And, most certainly, it qualifies as a spiritual experience! Thanks for tickling the memory.

  2. I grew up on the Canadian prairies so I’ve been lucky enough to see the Lights several times. But my favorite memory is from my first time. I was 7, and we had just moved there, and there was a fantastic display about 11 or midnight. My dad came and woke me up and took me outside to see it. I remember him holding me and being all cold and amazed.

  3. You’re the only other person I know who’s mentioned the swishing sound! Everyone tells me I’m crazy, but I know that’s what I heard — a very ethereal swishing sound. Thanks for the confirmation!

  4. Growing up in Toronto, I was lucky to see the lights a few times. It’s one of those rare moments when the world and those around you stop, and only the dancing lights exist.

  5. I was once blessed to see the Northern Lights in Michigan’s UP. Spellbinding indeed, a spiritual experience absolutely. I once had a native Indian woman tell me that the lights are unborn children laughing across the universe. That is how I like to think of them, pure, innocent laughter. This vast universe of ours is teeming with miracles. I found great comfort in knowing that the innocence of children begins in the heavens above, when they are incarnated here in on earth let us strive to keep them innocent and full of laughter as long as possible, and when they are grown, they will still be laughing.

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