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.

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 …!

on the horizon: strawberry moon looming large …!

‘Lunar Eclipse’ strawberry red full moon photo via ‘cutting edge astrology for uranian times’

The first lunar eclipse of 2010 occurred in the wee hours of this morning for those lucky skywatchers out on the west coast!

Pacific Canadians were also treated to an eye popping Moon Illusion on the horizon, and will appear so again tonight …! The moon is at its lowest position of the year so this full ‘Strawberry Moon’, as so named by the Algonquin people, appears a rosy red shade as it rises on the horizon …!

We’ll watch the Sun as his chariot rolls
Far down the horizon’s rim. – M L Wyatt

snow and ice: making tracks … mush!

Walking on snow at {a la ‘Aglooka’} Yukon College


Mysterious and rare snow donuts, they require a precise combination of snow, ice, wind, temperature and moisture to form …

Freakish and magical icicle sculpture created by cars splashing through puddles, spraying a tree branch and freezing in mid-air …

Tracking the ‘unknown pioneer’ of the ‘Northern Wilderness’ … another superb series and ode to Canada, again, produced in the UK {BBC} …

Ray Mears, humble but brilliant Bushcraft and Survival expert from England, follows the trail of Samuel Hearne, the first European explorer to reach the Arctic Ocean, overland, with the aid of Canadian indigenous folk, skills, and of course, snowshoes … much like Dr Rae, and also via the HBC, though Hearne’s amazing adventures took place a whopping 8o years prior … he blazed the trail …! We do hope that this series will air in Canada soon … in the meantime, you can learn to craft ‘Emergency Snowshoes’, a la Ray Mears and Aglooka, with the TSG folks next weekend …!


Driving on snow with the Fordson Snow-Motor/Snow Devil, c.1920s … silent film from the Archives of Michigan, found via here, and a bit of interesting background found here … the HBC and Mounties placed orders, but it was not to be … watch for ‘turning radius on ice’, aka, ‘snow donuts’ …

Fast tracking … the Yukon Quest 1000 Mile Sled Dog Race 2010, tracing the historic Klondike Gold Rush route, known as the ‘highway of the north’, aka the Yukon River, ended in Whitehorse today … the winner, Canadian Hans Gatt, broke a new record for fastest finish ever …!

shop news: a hottie for haiti


10% of profits from this new red vintage Scottish blanket ‘hottie’ cover {hot water bottle cover} will be donated to the Red Cross {Canadian mission} to assist with urgent action in relief efforts in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti.