I’ve had “See the Northern Lights” on my bucket lists since bucket lists became a thing. Got a view once on a flight to Europe, arcing over the arctic circle, but that didn’t really count. I’ve plotted drives to Yellowknife, dreamed of a Norway vacation, and have spent a few nights in Alaska, but it takes a confluence of free time, clear Earth weather, stormy Sun weather, and luck to make it happen. All those came together with little warning on Friday.
My Aurora app alerted me to a solar storm that afternoon, and predicted the light show would dip down into Minnesota. Now remained timing and luck. Timing was easy – no plans for the evening. Moon was waxing crescent, check. Skies were unseasonably clear, check. But would it hold? Roads were clear – I could drive as far North as I needed to chase the opportunity. But mentally I almost wrote it off. What were the chances, and if they did make an appearance, would it be more than just a dull glow?
At about 9 pm I stepped outside… and there was in fact a dull glow. But then more. There was movement. My eyes and mind relaxed. I began to see color and shape. I walked to a darker place, and then it came alive. Energy rippling across the whole sky — greens and purples pulsing, surging, flashing. Right here where I lived. Alone in the street, I took it in. Later I drove just 20-minutes out of town for yet darker skies, and was not disappointed.
It was a happy moment, and timely. It came when I needed perspective, needed to think some big thoughts and make some big decisions. It reminded me that for all the worrying and planning, so much just happens, in its own time, for reasons not disclosed. And often it is good.
Here are a few other bucket list moments where I managed to have a camera.