Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis is defined in the dictionary as a natural electrical phenomenon characterized by the appearance of streamers of reddish or greenish light in the sky, usually near the northern or southern magnetic pole.

When we set our dream on Alaska we have been hopeful to see the Aurora (Northern Lights), all of last winter when we would see a glow in the night sky, (there is a lot of night sky to watch) we would eagerly look for the Aurora. Some mornings as I drove home from my normal job, at the hospital I would watch the horizon and wonder is that glow the lights or just city glow.

This month we were able to catch the beauty of the Aurora just a few miles from the house, and can honestly say now that when you visit us in the winter months, (dark time) you can see the Aurora, from one of decks here at Our Alaskan Dream, when the night is dark enough and the sky is clear.

With the excitement of finally being able to see the Aurora myself, I thought I would share a bit of history related to the Aurora:

The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south..
Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common.

The connection between the Northern Lights and sunspot activity has been suspected since about 1880. Thanks to research conducted since the 1950’s, we now know that electrons and protons from the sun are blown towards the earth on the ‘solar wind’. (Note: 1957-58 was International Geophysical Year and the atmosphere was studied extensively with balloons, radar, rockets and satellites. Rocket research is still conducted by scientists at Poker Flats, a facility under the direction of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks – see web page

Aurora borealis’, the lights of the northern hemisphere, means ‘dawn of the north’. ‘Aurora australis’ means ‘dawn of the south’. In Roman myths, Aurora was the goddess of the dawn. \par Many cultural groups have legends about the lights. In medieval times, the occurrences of auroral displays were seen as harbingers of war or famine. The Maori of New Zealand shared a belief with many northern people of Europe and North America that the lights were reflections from torches or campfires.

The Menominee Indians of Wisconsin believed that the lights indicated the location of manabai’wok (giants) who were the spirits of great hunters and fishermen. The Inuit of Alaska believed that the lights were the spirits of the animals they hunted: the seals, salmon, deer and beluga whales. Other aboriginal peoples believed that the lights were the spirits of their people.

During the dark time, here in Alaska I often seen a soft hue of green in the wee hours of night, I am glad to understand the history of the beauty that I see now. We will continue to try to catch the Aurora while it is dancing across that norther sky, in all its glory, until then when I look up as I drive home in the middle of the night will follow the lead of the Inuit and smile as the spirits of the animals are smiling down on me, guiding me home to Our Alaskan Dream

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *