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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]
hold me with wings of green fire

We were in the middle of a scrabble game when the message came through: aurora borealis, level 2 alert. You know you have the right sort of friends when you all decide at midnight on a Sunday to pile into a car and rush North, away from the curdled sprawl of Seattle's light pollution, to go see it. We drove to Snohomish and parked at an Assembly of God church, spilled out of the car expectantly and peered at the Northern horizon.

Along the horizon, a low band of green haze, milk-pale behind a jagged horizon of trees. A city on the other side of some hills, perhaps, or headlights caught in a bank of fog. Either way, too much light pollution for us to see the aurora. Helluva a disappointment.

And then the universe took a breath.

The haze rippled, became a curtain of falling fire stirred by a ghostly hand, bent and folded on itself, eddied upwards in trailing cascades of green fire. Somehow in all the pictures I'd seen, all I'd read, I'd expected it to be stately and slow, to drift and roll like an ocean mist. Not to snap and whirl and fold and dance, to arch like a lover into the solar wind, to leap like sparks in a fireplace and fall like snow in moonlight. But it was fast and it was achingly beautiful.

In a few days, you'll undoubtedly be treated to my ranting about photos that show nothing but an uninteresting green haze. :)

Current Mood: jubilantjubilant

Cool! We almost NEVER get that way down here. I've never seen it, though some folks claim they have!
I'm happy for just a little milky way, much less the Aurora Borealis.

Arg! I missed it!

Damn! Wish I would have known. I have still never seen in it person. Sounds wonderful. :)

I'm so incredibly jealous ...

Driving home from Spokane last night, stopped at the "scenic view" turnoff at the Columbia River crossing/Vantage. At first I thought the aurora borealis was the headlights of the cars in summer dust or smoke in the air. But then I realized the scale was all wrong for that. Not very colorful last night, but still impressive. For some reason, I associate Northern Lights with winter evenings. Perhaps just because it is darker sooner and longer in the winter. We used to see them fairly often from North Idaho.

Pretty stuff.

I need that kind of alert system

You can sign up for the email alerts right here. According to the website, there are about 20 alerts a year for this area, so there shoudl be another in a couple of weeks.

For those interested, the alarm system we use is here. The detector is in Walla Walla, WA, so it probably won't help if you're too far away from the northwest. I believe there are other services around, but I don't know anything about them.

I could have wept when Fishy called to see if the car was free for use for this, and I couldn't go because of visiting Mom.

I could weep now for what I missed.

Next time I'll go along anyway.

There better BE a next time.

Next time, in fact, turns out to be the 21st. Come with us!

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Apparently last night's was actually visible in SoCal. Probably not from where you were, though; too many city lights.

Amaizing indeed

I saw them for the first & so far only time, mid-September last year. I was on a train headed south from Churchill, MB, Canada (just West of Hudson Bay). They weren't really expecting the Aurora for another couple of weeks otherwise I would have stayed 3 nights there, just to watch them.

When I saw them they were more like someone had taken a Green highlighter across the the sky and then poured water over the line and let it drip down the sky in green streaks. After the streaks had been established it was green velvet sliding and folding on itself.
I happen to have had a 3 year old girl in my lap at the time, whom I was entertaining while her parents got some sleep. She & I were talking about what we saw in the lights as they spun and danced. So my memory of the Northern Lights is filled with the happy prattle of a 3 year old and images of what was 'hidden' in those lights in the sky.

Thanks for the link to the detector site!

That's a wonderful story.
Do you have any photos? I've really enjoyed a lot of the photos you've posted from trips, and would love to see your aurora shots.

no photos

Unfortunately I had only a digital camera. Between train motion and lack of illumination the camera wouldn't even try it.
I have a sketch from then, but no photos.
The other detail that I left out was that there was a single star (or might have been a planet) that was in the middle of the display, so the imagination rapidly turned that into the eye of fantastic glowing green metamorphosing creatures.