Aurora borealis — not “rosy-fingered Dawn” of Homer’s Odyssey, but dawn in the north, the northern lights, nordlyset, a mystical, impossible glow in winter’s nighttime sky.
Many years ago in northern Illinois my father called us out into the front yard to watch surprising, shimmering colors in the northern sky. Pale, low on the horizon, nearly hidden by trees and houses, but exciting for the short time it was visible. Chilled, we retreated to the house and bed when the glow grew too dim to watch. I was perhaps ten or twelve, but in my mind I can still see the sky that night.
Over the years I have seen photographs of the lights. The photographs are nice, but they are static. In person, the lights move, change shape, swell, shrink and swell again, like the black-red glow in the embers of a campfire. The photographs, no matter how beautiful, rarely call me for a second look.
But this year, Ole Christian Salomonsen has captured the light near Tromsø, Norway, in an amazing time-lapse video for all to see. I encourage anyone who stumbles across my comments to watch Salomonsen’s video in full screen, then imagine that you are standing in a field in northern Norway, far from city lights, and what you see covers the whole sky.