Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SOLSC March 18th - Chasing the Northern Lights

Join me as I participate in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Other "Slicers" can be found among my students in the comments of my class blog. There are also several hundred teachers participating at https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

photo credit: Northern Lights (Iceland) via photopin (license) 
Right now, I am sitting in a Barnes and Noble, hot chocolate and laptop at the ready. It's 7:40pm, I'm missing bedtime and I'm supposed to be writing rubric evaluations for student/parent/teacher conferences that start on Thursday. But what I want to be doing is chasing the Northern Lights.

Today, the power at school was out for a couple of hours in the morning and I heard it might be due to the wind, construction nearby, or the fact that there was a massive solar flare happening. I know that a solar flare means the Earth's atmosphere starts to go haywire as electromagnetic particles slam into it and the poles get the aurora borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights.

So far, I've missed them the few chances we have to see them here in Colorado. Or they have missed me because the predicted solar flares have lower intensity or there is cloud cover. I may have sort of seen them one night while attending Grinnell College, in Iowa, but it was so faint I wasn't sure. But right now, there might be the smallest chance the lights will come down as far south as 40 degrees latitude and maybe, just maybe I could see them if I really tried.

 photo credit: Aurora 2013-5 via photopin (license)
The reality is, I want to jump in my car, drive northeast for 35 miles to get away from the city lights, find an old farm road and park pointing north. Then, bundled in whatever clothes and blankets are in the car, lay on the roof and watch the sky, the cold seeping slowly and interminably into my core. Too tired to stay awake but too cold to sleep, I would observe satellites cross the sky, wish on shooting stars and wait for the dancing colors I have seen in pictures, in videos, and in my mind.

The other reality, is what will happen. I'll schedule this blog to post, write up some rubrics, and check the Space Weather Prediction Center website a few times an hour in the hope that things get exciting and the lights are moving south. As the B&N closes, I'll step into the much colder air, be slightly glad I'm not freezing out in the country somewhere, and look north the whole way to my car in a vain but hopeful attempt to see what isn't actually there. After going to sleep at home, I'll wake up around 3 AM (like I do most nights) and after going to the bathroom, I'll peak through the blinds of a north-facing window in one last hopeful moment.

Someday, I will really have to go chasing these night rainbows!

p.s. I did at least observe and recognize Jupiter and Venus high in the sky on my way to the car.


  1. I hope you make the time to do so. Such sights are not to be missed, I tell myself.

  2. I would jump at the chance to check out the northern lights. Despite what we want to do life gets in the way. I hope you get the time to check them out.

  3. Seeing the northern lights 2 winters ago in Alaska was one of the most amazing things I've done in my life. The first night they only appeared, faintly, for a couple of minutes. I would have missed them, thinking they were just clouds, if someone hadn't pointed them out. But the next night was unmistakable as the green sky fairies danced for more than 6 hours. I'll never forget it and would love to see them again. They are simply spectacular and captivating. I hope you see them soon :)

  4. I really want to see the northern lights. I think it would just be the greatest thing. It looks beautiful.

  5. I have seen the Northern Lights a couple of times...but never have taken a picture. Last night I talked my husband into driving out of the city....cameras and tripods in the back seat...and we were off to take some great photos. Well, I was....Ray had his doubts.. We travelled quite a ways and waited and saw nothing. :-( Maybe if we had waited longer we might have seen them...but it was cold and late and time to return home. I hope you will someday see the Northern Lights. Jackie http://familytrove.blogspot.com/

  6. A dream of mine is to someday go and camp out , viewing the Northern lights. They seem too amazing to be true! Tonight, though I will think about them as you did and smile in anticipation.

  7. I live in lower Michigan and I keep thinking that someday I will get the chance to see the Northern Lights too.

  8. Beautiful! Dan and I did that last year! We drove for 2 hours and chased and chased, and settled with the hope that we imagined something. I loved the contrast of your hope and your prediction of reality. One day....I hope you get to see them!