A Global Moment of Wonder

As Sitka waited for the dark, (as dark as it ever gets in May) we watched our glorious blue skies fade to dusk and clouds began to form.  The forecast was for cloudy skies after sunset. Sunset is just after 9.  At this time of year there is no “night” as defined by astronomers, only different levels of twilight. 

Despite the prediction of an epic magnetic storm that would produce a massive aurora, as well as predictions of cloud cover, Sitkans waited hopefully. Touching base on social media.

“See anything where you live?”

“No too many clouds,”

“Wait, look straight up!”

“Where are you?”

From our house the skies looked socked-in so I got into the car and drove to Starrigavan, where I usually go chasing the Aurora. I didn’t have a lot of hope.  Lazy slug that I am I didn’t bring the tripod, DSLR camera, and the lenses I usually use for shooting the Aurora.  I had an iPhone.

Starrigavan was a block party.  Every parking space at Old Sitka State Park was occupied. Cars were parked on the road’s shoulders all the way back to the Forest Service campground.  That’s where I parked and walked to the bridge over Starrigavan Creek.

Everyone in town seemed to be there, wanting to participate in the aurora festival that was sweeping the world, even if the skies were still twilight and there was a thin overcast.  But the overcast took on a strange greenish, then reddish, then magenta glow, with a bit of the crescent moon breaking through.

Then spikes of aurora were visible through the clouds accompanied by oohs, aahs and cheers.  I was kicking myself for not bringing the camera and tripod.

Just before midnight the crowd started to thin out and I decided to go to Harbor Mountain.  The gate to the road was locked but the parking area just before the gate had a party going on.  Someone had brought a propane heater.  A police car sat at some distance watching us watching the aurora. 

This was not the best aurora I have ever seen.  Other people from much further south of our 57 degrees are posting much better pics. I was shooting through a thin overcast in a twilight sky with a handheld iPhone.  But they’re not bad. 

It was a sense of occasion.  I was participating in something, in real time, with much of the rest of the world living above about 38 degrees North and South latitude and south of the northern hemisphere’s twilight zone.  Folks from Europe, Australia, Antarctica and across America shared wonder on social media with the rest of the world.

6 thoughts on “A Global Moment of Wonder

  1. LOVE THIS NARRATIVE! Thanks for the memories of Auroras at Starrigavan!!!

  2. Thank you so very much for the pics! We had a chance to see the Northern Lights in RI, but the cloud cover was just too much. For the first time in ages I didn’t wake up during the night, when the clouds had cleared.

    Seeing the Northern Lights—live and in person—is the one thing left on my list of things to do before I die.

  3. Thanks for the pictures! I was really hoping they would make it to North Georgia but alas not. I hadn’t thought about the people in Australia seeing the aurora. . .but of course the sun was creating a show for anyone North and South. Seeing the Northern (or Southern) Lights is one of my last bucket list items. If I had had more notice I might have made a trip north. Thanks for sharing your excitement with us.

  4. We are and we’re very excited here in Sacramento to see the aurora. Friday night was pretty spectacular. We are hoping tonight will be a repeat performance!

  5. Nice pictures anyway with your cell phone. We had them hear as well in Nova Scotia, however there are too many street and yard lights even out here in the country now. Friends who live in the woods were able to see them, but at my old age I just couldn’t bring myself to drive anywhere.
    Thank you for sharing your photos. ❤️

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