It had been on my ‘bucket list’ for a while – the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. But like many things that are wondrous to see, they take some effort to find and observe.
The Aurora Borealis occurs in a circular pattern over the arctic and sub-arctic. Sure, they occasional occur far south, including in Wisconsin, but very rarely. In order to (almost) guarantee that I would see the Aurora Borealis, it was necessary to travel to a place it regularly occurs.
I traveled there in the winter, when night is long (about 18 hours). North from a place few have heard of, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, to a place few have visited, Blachford Lake Lodge. It is a remote place perfect for the solitary contemplation of nature’s beauty.
I arrived at the lodge by ski plane as the only other option is a ten-hour snowmobile ride. Nature has top priority at the lodge, and its kind treatment through composting, recycling and outhouses leaves the area natural and pristine.
After two nights of cloud cover and frost, a beautiful Aurora Borealis occurred, lasting for hours and lighting up the night sky. It was as glorious as I had anticipated. Camera batteries quickly lost their charge in the -25 degree temperatures while I stood outside to photograph essentially what could not be photographed – dancing ribbons of light.
The journey, including people met along the way, long hours of travel, and bonding with my traveling companions, my brother and sister, was just as large a part of the experience as seeing the Aurora Borealis.
Staring up at the northern sky, without the benefit of cellphone or internet was an opportunity to focus on the joy of the moment. To contemplate how small we are in comparison to the power and complexity of nature.
The Aurora Borealis occurred several nights in a row. It was an unforgettable light show. My advice is not to hesitate to attempt the difficult things in life. They are often most rewarding.
Enjoy the photos of Aurora Borealis and may you find your brilliant night sky.
Jane A. Svinicki, CAE