full snow moon illumination

‘The full moon illuminates snow covered trees. Inspite of the bright moon, the aurora shows up nicely in the clear sky. This is rare, however, as the slightest moonlit haze will obscure aurora. Note how much brighter (and blue rather than black) the sky is compared to the other images.’ Photo with description via the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks … more on the Full Snow Moon

welcome 2012: eyes north for peaking lights

The Northern Lights reach a zenith in 2012, as we enter this latest, and unusually strong, astronomical era of Solar Maximum. So, Aurora Borealis will be more brilliant and intense, more frequent, more vibrant and dramatic than any time in the last decade -— maybe even the last century … NASA scientists have predicted that this current Solar Maximum in 2012 will be the greatest since 1958, where the aurora stunned the people of Mexico by making an appearance on three occasions.

*Yellowknife, NWT, is a hotspot at 62 degrees latitude, since 62 degrees just happens to be directly under a dominant magnetic line of the earth’s magnetic field. Plus, Yellowknife’s night skies are usually clear, with no clouds impeding the spectacular view.

By all accounts, keep your eyes peeled on clear nights no matter the latitude, especially those farther south, for this may be your lucky year!

*UPDATE: Everybody can see the magnificent Aurora Borealis live from Yellowknife {after dusk local time} via this CSA page!

Photo, info courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

boreal spring: meltwater & aurora

1. ‘Mountains & Lake’, Lawren Harris, c1929, via
2. ‘Northern Lights’, Tom Thomson, c1917, via
3. ‘Northern Lights’, Tom Thomson, c1916, via
4. ‘Icebergs & Mountains, Greenland’, Lawren Harris, c1932, via

‘… to this long twilight, we must also add the Aurora Borealis, casting a light equal to that of the full moon, which appears in clear nights, at the beginning of the new moon, in the northern regions … and which sometimes even darts its rays far towards the South …’

… an excerpt from ‘The Poles are the most enlightened parts of the World’; XCIV, The Gentleman’s magazine, Vol 40, 1770, via University of Michigan

merry dancers of march …

‘Northern Lights’ woodcut, adapted from an illustration by the celebrated explorer Fridtjof Nansen, based on a sketch from 1883, found via this fascinating site

‘… while eyes in temperate climes are drawn to signs of spring beneath their feet, residents of places north look skyward for the vernal greening of a new season’ …

… an excerpt from ‘The Arctic Aurora Springs to Life’ via AccessScience

‘The Magic of the Merry Dancers’ via the remote northern isles of Orkney & Shetland …

northern lights in north america: earliest recorded sightings {on paper}, etc …

Art inspired by the first observation of northern lights in North America {New England}, 1718-19; ‘Aurora Borealis’ painting by FE Church, 1865, via Smithsonian American Art Museum

Very unusual early copper plate astronomy engraving of Aurore Boreale, Aurora Borealis the Northern Lights, dating from around 1760. The text is in French and appears to refer to an event in 1721. A rare engraving.

via the Maritime Gallery, UK

A. Angot, Les Aurores Polaires; Captain H. P. Dawson, Observations of the International Polar Expeditions, 1882-3, Fort Rae

‘… and in far northern latitudes serves to illuminate the earth and cheer the gloom of the long winter nights … the aurora borealis is said to be frequently accompanied by sound, which is variously described as resembling the rustling of pieces of silk against each other, or the sound of wind against the flame of a candle.’

via Project Gutenberg’s The New Gresham Encyclopedia

John Rand Capron (1829-1888)
Aurorae: Their Characters and Spectra

Early voyagers to the polar regions often saw the northern lights, a remarkable luminous display that some considered to be mists emanating from the earth. Capron was one of the first scientists to discuss the chemical and physical nature of the phenomenon. By the 1950s, it was accepted that the northern lights are caused by the interaction of high-energy electrons from the Sun with atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Thirty Plates Illustrative of Natural Phenomena, etc, 1846

This work contains beautiful color illustrations of various natural phenomena, including icebergs, waterspouts, and glaciers.

Both books via ‘Voyages, A Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition’

Interesting reading about the stunning colours of the aurora, why the aurora ‘dance’ {eg ‘merry dancers’ in Shetland}, & folklore

Fascinating compendium about the historical record of ancient chroniclers, history of auroral science, cultural impact, folkloric names, such as ‘foxfire’ in Finland, ‘tricky lady’ in Norway, current science, photography, the arts & etc … via Aurorae

Last but not least … how to record the sounds of the aurora …!

campfire classics: camping under the stars …

Campfire under stars and northern lights ‘astrophoto’ {top} by B Stewart, via the Royal Astronomical Society in Victoria BC …

‘Campfire’ by Tom Thomson {second} via here, and spotted in the archives of the ever inspiring {and lovely customer!} Cold Splinters

‘Fireflies in jar’ photo {third} via Firefly.org, a wonderful site dedicated to the magical but sadly disappearing firefly … please log & submit your ‘firefly sightings’ to the fantastic Firefly Watch via Museum of Science, Boston USA!

Classic Stanley Limited Edition Thermos … on SALE NOW in the shop … and … soon to add some ‘travel weary’ versions to the Tinder garage sale … check back soon ….! Truly limited supply, no longer available from Stanley

Happy camping, folks!

spring equinox: the mystery of magnetic attraction

The Northern Lights in Norway, via here

Welcome Spring and the solar new year … and ‘aurora season’ … during the Vernal Equinox, the magnetic connections between sun and earth are favoured, due to astronomical geometry, and this orientation is best to create Aurora Borealis, according to the Royal Meteorological Society … Look here for clues …

Watch for high spring tides too …

Surfing in Japan {where the Equinoxes are national holidays}; photo via Snowman Japan