The aurora & astronomy instructor at the CNSC often tells people who come up and are eager to see the northern lights: “The best things in life are worth waiting for.”
When it comes to nature, is that ever true. One of the things I’ve learned throughout my travels is patience. Whether I’m waiting to see northern lights, a rare bird, or lions, the best things truly come to those who wait. You can’t rush enjoying the natural world – you have to simply surround yourself with it, and wait for the world to show you what it chooses. Eventually, you hope to see something incredible. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes you have to go far to find it. And sometimes, you get to witness something you never expected. Often I am blown away by what I’ve seen, and quite often seeing it in person is better than I ever imagined. Patience is always worth it.
The last week here in Churchill has been testing my patience as we’ve had night after night of cloudy skies. Finally, on Saturday night, there were predictions for a spectacular night – a major geomagnetic storm was heading to Earth, with predictions of a KP6 (which is major) in Churchill. I checked my space weather apps obsessively, and as soon as the sun set I had my eyes peeled. The night was clear and dark, full of beautiful stars, and I waited up until midnight.
No aurora ever appeared.
Disappointed, I eventually went to bed, and learned the next day that nobody saw the aurora that night – they now think that the major geomagnetic storm must have missed Earth.
The next day, I didn’t bother checking any of my space weather apps, or watching out for the aurora. That night I got into my pjs, brushed my teeth, and was fully about to go to bed, when I decided I’d check the sky – just in case.
And there was a green smudge!
I woke up the other people in the centre that wanted to see it, and we started watching. Half an hour later, the smudge turned into a beautiful show. There was green, and yellow, and a little bit of red/purple, and so much movement.
The start of the show:
I love this shot. I feel like you can almost see the movement in it – the aurora was really dancing:
This aurora took me completely by surprise – and it was well worth the wait: