I spy with my little eye … the Northern LightsPosted: December 2, 2011
Each day before my husband leaves for work, as I am still sleepy-eyed, he gives me the morning updates. He tells me what is on the news, what is happening in the world of sports, other tidbits of information, and, most importantly, what the Geophysical Institute’s aurora forecast is for the day. Translation: will we be able to see the Northern Lights tonight?
On Monday, the forecast was a four, moderate. But this is good. Normally, the forecast moves between one and two, so we have a policy to get outside and look if it is three or above. The scale is 1-10. That night we bundled up, packed a thermos of hot chocolate (my new winter go-to), and drove to Chena Lakes Recreation Area, the closest place to get a good view of the lights.
After about 15 minutes, we could see the lights forming on the horizon and from there it only got better. One of my favorite parts about the Northern Lights are how they change. They move across the sky, shifting both in shape and intensity of color.
This is the third time we have seen the lights since arriving in Alaska and each time I get caught up in their spell. It’s almost magical, like a little wizard is standing someplace out in the snow painting his wand across the sky, green waves of pixie dust.
My husband is our Northern Lights photographer. I am more of a point-and-shoot kind of girl. To me, composition is important, landscapes, people, animals, etc. I am interested in how they fit in the window of the shot, but when I get down to the business of actually taking the picture, I want the camera to do the work. So it is a good thing Lucas likes to play around with the settings and read the instructions. He is mastering the night shot.
This also has two additional advantages for me: I can hop in the car to warm up more often (it’s still cold here!), and I get to just look. There is something special about just taking it all in. Alaska continues to make me marvel at the natural world.