The Spirit of Our Skies

The green bar across the northern sky over the garden was clearly visible through the Black Spruce trees as I stood behind my camera and tripod. I never miss an opportunity to come out to watch and photograph them. Watching the Northern Lights is addictive! They formed a hazy green mist through the tops of the trees, moving northwest before fading away almost completely.

Photographed By: Rachel Dawson Photography. Northern Lights over Tagish Lake.

After they faded away I hesitantly packed up my tripod and went inside knowing that they would be out again later that night. I had checked the Aurora Forecast earlier in the day and they told viewers that weather permitting, we should see a moderate display of lights in the Yukon. I was hopeful; the rating was 3 out of 8 on the aurora activity scale for the night. I checked the sky at 11:00pm to see a wide green river flowing across the sky right over our house, from one horizon the other. The Northern Lights were so faint that you could see the milky way stars glimmering through it and it moved slightly, like it had a gentle current pushing it through the night sky.

As I watched, the currents pushed the river right over Tagish Lake where it began to pulse brighter and brighter. The green river started to dance right above the trees, still pulsing brighter. The whole river condensed into one shapeless mass on the horizon, where it seemed that it couldn’t contain itself any longer and blossomed.

Photo By HPJ Photography. Northern Lights Over Nares Mountain in Carcross, Yukon.

All over the Yukon people watched the beautiful displays fly through the sky in all of the colours of the rainbow. Over Carcross, just 30 minutes away from Tagish, green, purple, and yellow Northern Lights swelled in the sky. At Crag Lake, 15 minutes away from Tagish, photographers experienced the unsettling beauty of red Aurora Borealis. In Whitehorse lights of purple, green, yellow, and pink danced daintily with the stars.

Photographed By Nicolas Dory. Northern Lights Over Whitehorse, Yukon February 2012

In Tagish my brother I watched the fingered curtains dancing joyfully to silent music over our heads. Somewhere along the lake we could hear the deep hooting of a Great Horned Owl along with the sharp popping, scraping, and rumble of the lake ice breaking up. In the sky the dance of the lights became faster, frenzied, the edges of the curtains turning a faint pink and the centers yellow.

Photograph By Beakingoff. Northern Lights Over Tagish.

While watching this amazing sight right over our heads I felt as though my brother and I were the only people in the world. So small, and yet belonging to everything that we can see around us including the mysterious lights above us. We are all a part of something much bigger and it is easily seen on nights like this.

Photographed By Beakingoff.

They started moving north, getting fainter and slower as though growing tired. The curtains grew smaller and drifted back down from the sky to the horizon where they again formed a single mass and slowly faded away. My brother and I were left with the dark night sky and the sounds of the lake ice popping, the owl quietly hooting.

Photo By Beakingoff.

These Northern Lights are the aftermath of a huge solar storm that hit the northern atmosphere in January, 2012. Some people across the north were lucky enough to see spectacular Northern Lights in the skies. The solar storm occurred January 18-19th, 2012 and consisted of three separate solar events, the last being a coronal mass ejection caused by a solar flare.  The solar events did not directly collide with the Earth, but it was enough to cause some amazing shows in our atmosphere. If you would like to know when there is going to be a good Northern Lights show, you can have warning ahead of time at this website: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast . This website is very reliable and informative. Please check it out!
Many local Yukon photographers have witnessed and captured the magic of the Aurora Borealis in the dead of night, and they bring the beauty into the daylight with them for all of us to see. In this post I have included photos taken by a few local Yukon photographers. These photos are not to be reproduced or distributed without the permission of the photographers.

Photographed By HPJ Photography. Northern Lights Over Carcross, January 16th 2012.

HPJ Photography has taken many stunning photos of Yukon scenes, and has recently started photographing the Northern Lights. You can view more of her photos at https://www.facebook.com/hpjphotography . If you would like to be notified when she has posted something new, please ‘like’ her Facebook page and follow her work!

Photo By Rachel Dawson Photography. Northern Lights Over Tagish Lake.

Rachel Dawson Photography is fairly new but her wide variety of photos make it look like she has been doing this for many years. She is just learning how to photograph Northern Lights and has turned out some really nice results! Check out her Fluider account:http://www.fluidr.com/photos/ray_ray_2010 to view more of her work. Also check out her blog: http://01302012.blogspot.com/.
Nicolas Dory has taken many wonderful photos in the Yukon and in other places as well; you can check out his blog and see more of his photos at http://www.nicolasdory.com/ .
Check out this amazing video footage of Northern Lights over Norway! It was taken during the climax of the solar storm in January and captures some truly breath-taking footage. It is not taken with time-lapse settings, this is a real-time video.  http://vimeo.com/35790728 .
Before I finish this post, I would like to share one of my favourite legends about Northern Lights. When you have watched the Northern Lights dance above your head in the sky, you can clearly see how these legends came to be.

North of the Rainbow Bridge

The time comes.  A sled dog lifts up its head.  There is an untested adventure beyond.  Time to go.
Across the Rainbow Bridge is a place for all dogs. 
A river runs wide and shallow with tennis balls that fly with their own wings; that is the place for a Labrador or Golden to await its masters arrival.  A sled dog is not content here.  Northward is its trail….
There are soft pastures for Aussies and Border Collies, with sheep and geese to pen. Agility equipment grows like trees amid Frisbees and fly balls. 
But the North continues its sure wild call, and the sled dogs journey continues….
Now the air is colder.  Now the moon is always full.  Now the light is silver and it breaks and shimmers on fields of bright snow.  Now there are no roads, no walls, no pens,
just endless space to run.  This is where the sled dogs gather, (Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan huskies, and others) North of the Rainbow Bridge.
They wait in this beautiful place, happy, but not complete.  Suddenly, a howl begins, as one dog senses someone coming, someone very special.  All the sled dogs raise their heads and join in the ancient chorus.  They dance like moonbeams and sing like winter winds.
There are red ones like dawn streaks, black ones splattered with many colors and silver ones like the first strange hour before light. 
They line up as if in harness and run together, in a scintillating, many-colored streak.  The leader of the team guides the others past the fields and river, with racing feet and racing heart.  They rush to greet the new arrival at the Rainbow Bridge, where the leader is rejoined with its beloved person, never to be parted again.
The glory of the reunion is celebrated by all the sled dogs dwelling beyond the Bridge, a shimmering, multicolored team leaping and whirling with joy.  The light from that scene is what we see on magical evenings in the northernmost parts of this Earth:  The Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights beyond the Rainbow Bridge.
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6 responses to “The Spirit of Our Skies

  1. Wow! When we moved to Point Hope, we thought we would be in good viewing spot to see the lights. We’ve seen them twice…always cool…but never as intense as your shots. Beautiful.
    Greetings from north of the Arctic Circle.

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