The Aurora Borealis: A Lesson on Presence and Transience – Postcard Monday

Aurora Borealis - Postcard MondayThis stunning postcard of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, was sent to me by a friend who was working in Yellowknife (Northwest Territories, Canada). She hoped they were a good omen. I would like to think so too, even if only for the fact that they make us stop and admire the overwhelming natural beauty that surrounds us.

I’ve seen the aurora borealis once, while driving north from the Edmonton International Airport. I was in the passenger seat when I spotted some flashes of light from the corner of my eye. I took a second look and, to my amazement, it was the northern lights. I could hardly believe how lucky I was to finally see the northern lights. We pulled off the highway and stopped the car to get a better look. It was beautiful and mesmerizing. The lights truly dance across the sky and appear and disappear with such fluidity that you find yourself both in awe of their presence and in appreciation that this beauty is transient. I didn’t have a good enough camera that night but I did capture a 30 second video on my phone; it was a dark screen accompanied by sounds of our glee and excitement.

As with many things, having had the experience and sharing our story is more important than any physical souvenir we can capture. Until I see the aurora again, I’m grateful to have this beautiful postcard to remind me of that cold and magical night in Edmonton.

Aurora Borealis - Postcard Monday

Aurora Borealis - Postcard Monday

 Photo on postcard by Takashi Koakutsu

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2 thoughts on “The Aurora Borealis: A Lesson on Presence and Transience – Postcard Monday

    • They lasted about 5 to 10 minutes when I saw them but they can last for hours. They are caused by coronal mass ejections, a phenomenon where the sun ejects billions of particles into space. From what I understand, the magnetic field of these particles interact with the Earth’s magnetic fields (particularly at the north and south magnetic poles) which sometimes manifest as the northern lights. In terms of weather on Earth affecting the northern lights, it really has to do with whether the sky is clear and dark enough for you to see the lights. Although the hard science behind all this is a little beyond my expertise 🙂

      If you’re wanting more answers, I was browsing wordpress for posts and photos of the northern lights and came across http://nightlightsabove.wordpress.com/. Perhaps you’ll find more answers there. Thanks for stopping by!

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