Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Aurora? At this time of year?At this time of day?In this part of the country?Localized entirely within your kitchen? -Supt.Chalmers,The Simpsons

So, last night your faithful correspondent went to bed, the heavy responsibility of producing quality three times a week at Life In Alaska ready to drop from me like veils from a naughty dancer. But then, the glow stopped me.

Oh, I know that it's just high energy particles hitting the upper atmosphere of the Earth at about a million miles an hour. I could just sleep through it. But, hey, it's the friggin' Aurora. So, like that kid in that movie who woke up those people, I just couldn't let it rest. I grabbed The Mrs. and our visiting company, and out we went.

We were not disappointed. I know that the picture above sucks. I really, really understand that. But, this picture represents the first picture that I've captured of the Aurora. So, here it is. Enjoy. See the ultimate limits of Sony technology in Aurora-image-capturing. You can click on it to make it larger, but a better idea might be to move to Fairbanks. Because, unlike where you live, it has this:

Trying to show the Aurora with a picture like this is like attempting to show the concept of love by showing a blurry picture of a fish. It simply fails in the attempt. The Aurora moves, it undulates, it sweeps across the sky and flashes on and off like a neon sign at a bad bar.

The majesty of the Aurora is so hard to capture with words. I know lots of words, many of them obscure. But, I have a paucity of them when I try to capture the splendor that is spread over the night sky when the Aurora peeks her pointy little green head above our horizon.

One night, back during the bad old days when the Soviet Union had thousands of multi-megaton warheads pointed at our lovely land, I was driving in the mountains in some state that has them. It was winter. I was listening to Motley Crue (maybe it was The Scorpions, hell, maybe it was The Clash, I just damn well know that none of my cassettes had a synthesizer on them, just raw, naked, rough guitar - no damn Culture Club for this guy) and I looked to the north, to the big city I was heading toward. A diffuse red glow was smeared across the sky. At that point, I was pretty much thinking I'd be heading out to some sort of Mad-Max type world. I hit the radio - nothing. Not unusual in the mountains (that's why I was listening to the tape). I kept going on up the road, thinking that where 250 million Americans were there might just by a bunch of smoking holes. Around the bend as I reached the summit of the mountain pass, the radio announced the good news. No apocalypse. Nothing abnormal.

I read the next day in the paper it was an unusual burst of the Aurora. That was the first time I saw it, and as near as I can figure, I was the farthest south person in the world who could see it since the paper indicated that sightings were barely possible a hundred miles north of me (this was impossibly far south for the Aurora, and the only time I would see it for the next twenty years).

That was a hint of color in the north sky.

This, though, is like Nintendo, Playstation, and X-Box exploded in the night sky. Playing Pong with God, perhaps. Amazing.

There are things you have to see before you die. Maybe the ballpark of your favorite team. Maybe the Grand Canyon. But, if you want to see the hand of God in action, come to Fairbanks. See the Aurora. I will make this guarantee: it is worth every penny, and, more importantly, every second you spend in this quest.

But, it's better if you're in a hot tub, drinking beer, talking with the woman you love. Damn, sometimes, I envy me.


Blogger Woofwoof said...

Wow, cool pictures. What is that white streak on the right side of the top picture, about half way down? Is that a space alien? If you have both the aurora and aliens visiting from space, then I really envy you.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Coldfoot said...

I have never been able to get a good picture. How long of an exposure did you use?

9:03 PM  
Blogger GreyGuy said...

I grew up in a place where the autora was highly visible. It was spectacular. Even though I saw it all the time, I never grew blasé about it (even when I was a teenager).

3:28 AM  
Blogger GoGo said...

Ill be darn dang. I do believe we spotted the same thing.

They werent overhead though. ANd my camera didnt produce.
Was there lots of green?

7:06 AM  
Blogger Carl Oberg said...

John, good pictures. I've never seen the aurora, but the short view of them you get in "March of the Penguins" is impressive.

Also, I'm glad you are a Simpsons fan.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Garry Nixon said...

I like our life in Jarrow, UK, John, so could you please do a post that DOESN'T make me want to up sticks and move to Fairbanks, hmm?

10:55 AM  
Blogger John said...

Not that I have a landing site for UFOs. Made out of Christmas lights. In my front yard. Or anything.

Ummm, dunno. There's a button that shows a moon. Before I pumped up the fill light it looked like a black cat in coal mine.

I don't think I could ever become complacent about this beauty. Heck, even the nights are nice up here because there's a time that they're entirely absent. Makes you appreciate them more when they return.

LOTS of green. Some red, and a tweak of yellow.

Thank you. This doesn't even come close to doing it justice - the fluidity of change is amazing. It was like watching Bill Clinton argue both sides of an issue.

Hey, no (come to Alaska) subliminal messages (come to Alaska) buried in (come to Alaska) here. Besides it's cold (toasty warm inside) and sometimes darn (come to Alaska) bitter in the winter.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Lady Luck said...

Terry and I wanted to see this more than anything last week while we were in Anchorage! Missed it by a week and a few hundred miles I guess! :(

That is beautiful!!!

10:54 AM  
Blogger the Witch said...


2:10 PM  
Blogger John said...

Lady Luck,
Now, if you hadn't been inside the whole time!!!


8:12 PM  
Blogger GoGo said...

I dont know how it was done..

But the Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) spacecraft caught the lights on camera.


6:52 AM  
Blogger GoGo said...

That link dosnt look right..
Here is the movie.
Here is the story.

6:56 AM  

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