A photo can’t begin to do justice to the beauty and ethereal magic that is the Aurora Borealis. We were extremely lucky that they came out for us on each of five nights – seeing them first out of the window of our cabin on the train made us so happy, knowing that we had seen them. We were worried that they may be cancelled as they were two years ago when we went in pursuit of them in Iceland. An American lady said to us, as we sat in the warm, slightly slimy mineral waters of a thermal pool “Gee, wasn’t it a shame that the Northern Lights were cancelled last night?”.It was all we could do not to laugh loudly and ask “Who exactly cancelled them?” “How did they switch them off?”. We were incredulous! And we did snigger (quietly!).
I can’t do better than this poem, Ballad of the Northern Lights, by Robert W Service, known as the Bard of the Yukon, born in 1874. Despite the somewhat dated language I think this is the perfect description. I just have to add that I think scientists could have thought of a better phrase than “mass coronal ejection” which is what happens on the sun leading to our seeing the Northern Lights – it sounds a little rude! And we were so lucky (five nights out of five!) as there was a massive mass coronal ejection for us. Anyway, back to the poem….
And the skies of night were
alive with light,
with a throbbing thrilling flame;
Amber and rose and violet,
opal and gold it came.
It swept the sky like a giant scythe,
it quivered back to a wedge:
it cleft the night with a wavy golden edge.
Pennants of silver waved and streamed,
lazy banners unfurled;
Sudden splendours of sabers gleamed,
lightning javelins were hurled.
There in our awe
we crouched and saw with our wild, uplifted eyes
Charfe and reture the hosts of fire
in the battlefield of the skies.