Saturday, May 11, 2024

Still Life with Robin: Did you see it?

by Peggy Robin

Over the years I've had quite a few friends undertake elaborately planned trips to the far north in hopes of seeing the aurora borealis. Wherever they went -- Alaska, the Yukon, Finland, Iceland, Norway -- I have yet to hear of a single trip that was anything other than five nights of freezing in a cabin for maybe a fleeting glimpse of a greenish hue through the clouds. What have I learned? It can cost many thousands of dollars to see a full week of overcast skies. It's quite an expensive crapshoot; I'm sure there must be some very big winners -- it's just that I don't know any of them.

The most enamored aurora-viewer I ever encountered was an old high school classmate who went to Dartmouth and just happened to hear that the night sky was lighting up one night. He and his college girlfriend went out to a field with a blanket and a bottle of wine and spent many hours gazing up in wonder at nature's most spectacular show.

Last night was just such a spectacle for any aurora fans who were lucky enough to live in a part of the US that had clear skies and a nearby field free of urban light pollution. With just enough schedule flexibility and the ability to drive, plus the determination to get to the right spot by nightfall, you were virtually guaranteed to check this item off your bucket list (as proven in this set of tweets:

Alas, I was not one of those spontaneous aurora-chasers. But I am a great armchair traveler, and I do appreciate photos posted by others.

If you, too, get a vicarious thrill from other people's aurora-gazing, this column's for you.

First, from the Capital Weather Gang, a worthy compilation of local pix:

In the CWG compilation, this time-lapse video was my favorite:

The DC area residents who hopped into a car and drove to Charlottesville really got their money's worth:

The Blue Ridge was one of the best viewing spots: 

But Reston, VA had a pretty good show, too:

Here's one taken from the window of the plane, after taking off from DCA on the way to Chicago ORD:

Back on the ground, you could be as far south as FLORIDA and look up to see this:

Meanwhile, across the pond in England, a great landmark fell under the dancing lights:
And of course, you must see Stonehenge: 

Another European landmark that saw the light was Mt. St. Michel in northern France:

And saving the farthest away for last....New Zealand!

Sorry you missed it? You may get another chance tonight. That solar storm is really throwing some wild colors around!
Photo credit: Aurora over Grottoes, VA by Jessica Newman @jessicanewman
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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