Monday, June 18, 2012

An Amazing Nighttime Shift

Tonight is our third overnight in the past four night, where we take shifts on watch and continue all night to try make good progress. Thanks to our friend Owen coming along on this leg of the trip, we are able to push ourselves farther than with just the two of us.

On these overnight shifts, we take turns, two hours at a time, and they are usually pretty boring. But tonight turned out to be special.

My first watch was from 10 until midnight. At the start of my shift, my alarm went off, and I pulled on multiple layers of clothes and groggily climbed up to the cockpit. There was a warm breeze, making it fairly comfortable, and Michelle went down below and I settled down and watched the last remnants of the sunset in the northern sky.

A few seconds later, my brain registered that the sun doesn't set in the north.

I moved forward to peek around the bimini to get a better look, and quickly realized that I was seeing one of the best displays of Northern Lights that I've ever seen in my life.

The entire sky to the north was encircled with a band of light. Above that there was another band, pulsing with light. Shooting up into the sky were streamers, going all the way up to the zenith and beyond.

For the next 90 minutes, I was mesmerized by the sky constantly glowing and shifting. Needles of ligh would punch upwards across half the sky. Then glowing clouds would start in the northern band and start pulsing upwards, taking less than a second to fly up and dissipate only to be followed by more, ever brighter pulses.

Then the band around the north would glow brighter and brighter, and start twisting and turning around itself, with light and dark streaks appearing and disappearing, finally releasing its energy with clouds of light flying upwards.

Never has an overnight shift passed so quicky. I was almost sorry when Owen came up to take over. My next shift is from 4 to 6, and it gets bright very early here, so they may be invisible by then. But the past two hours were incredible and unforgettable.
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1 comment:

  1. I've seen the northern lights like that before and they are truly amazing! Glad you got to see them!.......Mom.