Golden Days, Emerald Nights

By , September 15, 2010

We are in a very pleasant weather pattern these last few days, with warm, sunny days and clear nights with aurora borealis displays.

The aurora is particularly welcome, being a rare sight in this region because of our predominantly cloudy weather. Also, there’s been a long period of low auroral activity, so that even on clear nights we haven’t seen anything at all. The last few nights, getting up in the early hours has become rewarding for the light show that generally gets rolling around that time. Monday night, Aly and I stayed up late to watch a movie. When we finished, the northern lights were so active Aly tried to take some photos of it! It was a good effort, but nothing worth posting just yet.

The current displays are a milky green, the most common aurora color around here. I’ve seen red, yellow, and even blue throughout my life, but not often. Even in the “standard” hue, it’s an amazing sight!

Even a quiet clear night is spectacular above our homestead. We’re positioned just right that we get no light pollution. Our “Power Point” shields our yard from the faint glow from Haines proper, affording us crystal clear star gazing. The Milky Way, a sight almost unknown to most Americans, can clearly be seen; constellations are somewhat more difficult to pick out because the dimmer stars around them are so visible, the established patterns aren’t as clear as they are elsewhere.

Ironically, when Slacktide anchored behind Sullivan Island to the south of us, an almost uninhabited stretch of the coast, we had more light pollution there than we get on the homestead. From our anchorage we could clearly see urban glow from both Haines and Juneau!

Typical of our 21st Century homestead, we can turn to the Internet to see if we’ll have aurora displays. The University of Fairbanks Geophysical Institute has an aurora forecast page for Alaska. They grade our recent displays as “moderate,” but after months of “quiet,” it seems more than moderate to us.

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