“I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up—many people feel small, because they’re small and the Universe is big, but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist
I have never felt smaller and so insignificant as this night gazing up at the Northern Lights. And yet it felt wondrous and special and spiritual. We were camped along the Upper Liard River, just west of Watson Lake. My Aurora alert went off so I grabbed my tripod and camera , jumped out of Ruby and looked up to the Sky. There they were, purple, blue, green, and red moving like ballet dancers slowly across the sky.
It’s a challenge to concentrate on photographing them when all I want to do is gaze upward and enjoy the magic show. The scientific explanation is : ” When charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, they cause electrons in the atoms to move to a higher-energy state. When the electrons drop back to a lower energy state, they release a photon: light. This process creates the beautiful aurora, or northern lights.”
But I like calling it magic, because it is. And you will know what I mean when you have your first Northern Lights experience.
We were camped close to a wide open meadow and I wandered around the meadow following the dancing lights. I can’t tell you how many times I stopped shooting just to stand back to enjoy the moment. And I did. After experiencing them along the Gerstle River we never expected to have this opportunity again.
When I walked back over to our campsite along the river I spotted the Big Dipper hanging in the sky just above a lone cabin on the riverbank. I imagined living in that cabin and having the good fortune to enjoy the Northern Lights all Winter long.
But I don’t live there, I live on an island in Washington. Rarely, but sometimes if we are lucky we have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. I think the fleeting chance of witnessing this magical show makes it even more special. You can bet I will be closely monitoring Aurora reports when we arrive home.
We have both been so moved and inspired by this experience our bucket list now has an entry : Head to Yellowknife or somewhere far north in the winter to see more Northern Lights! That’s our goal, but honestly, if we never see this incredible site again we will always feel grateful and blessed to have had this experience.
Our sweet campsite during the day. Isn’t it amazing how the Universe can transform an already beautiful scene into a magical explosion of dancing lights?
Enjoy the magic show my friends. Happy trails and safe travels and may the magic of this wonderful world always be with you.