Monday, March 24, 2008

Aurora Borealis

For the last four nights I was north of Fairbanks Alaska along with two friends. We traveled up there to observe the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. These amazing displays are created when particles in the solar wind interact with gases in our atmosphere, causing the release of light. 

The Auroras I observed started out as faint wisps of what looked like pale greenish clouds, but then they began to shimmer and flow across the sky in a way clouds never do. They moved vertically and horizontally and changed color as they danced across the early morning sky.I have read that the native people of Alaska believed the lights were the spirits of their ancestors, and can understand why they believed this. The Aurora is the most ghostly apparition I have ever seen.

We saw the most active lights between midnight and 2 AM. Yes it was cold. The temperature was 3 degrees F. without the wind chill taken into consideration. Here's what we looked like as we waited for the Aurora to appear.

We also had a great time during the day, and I'll post more about that later. For more information about what causes the Aurora, you can take a look here. We stayed at the Aurora Fairbanks Creek Lodge owned by Stephan and Brenda Birdsall. I highly recommend it. I have never felt so much at home in any lodge. The lodge is a converted mess hall and bunkhouse from and old gold mine. You go to their website here. They were exceptionally accommodating, and helpful as we planned our day's activities. They also own the ski area where we went to watch for the aurora. 

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