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Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Halfway through dinner, at 9pm came the call everyone had been waiting for.

ĎLadies and gentlemen, (dramatic pause), we now have the Northern Lights. There was an immediate stampede of diners leaving their meals, and rushing off to the upper open deck, to view! Many of them were still in their shirtsleeves. Milling about, they blocked the gangways, and jammed the lifts! DD and I, having experienced the cold the previous evening, went downstairs and put our thermals on, and collected DDís camera, set up and ready on the tripod.

On the exposed upper deck, it was -14íC without the added wind chill. It was Brass Monkeys! It was face freezing, ear burning, finger tingling, bum numbing, *****cold!!

The ship was dancing a fiddlers jig, plunging up and down and side to side, threatening to have you off your feet! The jacuzzi had been slopping over the sides and the water had frozen on the deck, leaving an ice rink. A ferocious wind, was whipping the snow off every surface, causing a stinging cloud of ice particles, and threatening to snatch my hat off my head, and my scarf from around my neck, and deposit them both in the Arctic ocean. There was soon an exodus of diners going back to their dinners, and within ten minutes there were less than twenty of us left out on deck.

This lone figure, hanging on to the rail for grim death with one hand, and her hat with the other, was me!!!



A Quick Physics Lesson please donít panic!

The aurora borealis is caused by high energy atomic particles released by magnetic flares and other activity on the sun.




The particles are swept along on the Solar Wind, till they encounter the Earths magnetic field, then they are channelled down the magnetic flux lines towards the poles.



When they reach the upper atmosphere, they collide with atoms of Oxygen (mostly) and Nitrogen (occasionally),



and the extra energy absorbed by the electrons of the oxygen and nitrogen atoms, pushes them into higher orbits.



These high energy paths are unsustainable without a continuous input of energy, and the electrons jump back to their original orbits.



They release the extra energy as a flash of visible light. This produces the effects of the aurora.



Itís an unfortunate fact that the human eye is not as capable of seeing colour at low light levels as the camera is.



Therefore a lot of people are disappointed when they donít see the bright greens and reds shown in these photos, but see it as mostly a pearly grey, with only hints of green and red when the aurora is very active.



These photos were taken when the aurora was right above us, giving a starburst effect.



We had three nights of seeing the Northern Lights, but the sun, despite coming to the maximum of itís eleven year cycle, is just not very active at the moment. We are out of the Arctic Circle now and heading south, so we have little chance of seeing them again this trip. Tomorrow night we will be home again. Itís been a lovely trip. Thanks to all my sparkfriends for joining me on the journey, and thanks to DD for the lovely aurora pictures.










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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

APPLEPIEDREAMS 4/5/2013 11:13AM

    Beautiful - I moved from Fairbanks, AK this last November after having lived there for nearly 14 years and I never got over how beautiful the Northern Lights could be.

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STFRENCH 3/19/2013 8:39AM

    These photos are simply magical! xx

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SUNNYBEACHGIRL 3/17/2013 12:25PM

    I have been fascinated by the pictures. I live in Southern California and have not experienced the weather in your pictures. Thanks for posting

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SUNNYBEACHGIRL 3/17/2013 12:25PM

    I have been fascinated by the pictures. I live in Southern California and have not experienced the weather in your pictures. Thanks for posting

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SUNNYBEACHGIRL 3/17/2013 12:24PM

    I have been fascinated by the pictures. I live in Southern California and have not experienced the weather in your pictures. Thanks for posting

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CHICCHANTAL 3/16/2013 3:19PM

    now I'm jealous!

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THE_SHAKESHAFT 3/15/2013 2:05PM

    Wow that's amazing!

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MARIONJEANA 3/15/2013 12:43PM

    Just beautiful ! emoticon

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TRUCKERSMRS 3/14/2013 6:53AM

    What beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing them with us all.

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BEANIES_MOM 3/14/2013 6:08AM

    Thanks for sharing those pics are beautiful!

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EOWYNRUSS 3/14/2013 4:14AM

    Those pics are incredible! Words really fail me, none seem to accurately describe how amazing they are. Thank you to you and your daughter for braving the bone-numbing cold and wildly pitching decks to get them. I definitely would love to see lights in person. Have a safe trip home!

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 3/13/2013 11:39PM

    Beautiful!

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ALIHIKES 3/13/2013 9:58PM

    Wow, thanks for sharing the wonderful photos! That's the experience of a lifetime!

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FALLNTENN 3/13/2013 7:58PM

    The photos are awesome! Too bad the vacation trip is almost over, but you will still have some wonderful memories. Tell your daughter thank you for sharing her pictures.

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CHRISGETTINGFIT 3/13/2013 6:58PM

    So cool!! Thanks for sharing.

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CATLADY52 3/13/2013 4:49PM

    Fantastic!! Thanks for both the photos and the science lesson. I'll bet most of the folks didn't think to be as prepared as you were. emoticon

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1BEACHWALKER 3/13/2013 3:02PM

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! Wow, to be able to see that while on vacation is awesome!! You write such descriptive blogs-thanks for all the hard work that takes and for the gorgeous photos! Safe trip home! emoticon emoticon

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JUNEAU2010 3/13/2013 2:38PM

    Memories! I used to see the Northern Lights when I lived in Mendenhall Valley outside of Juneau, Alaska. You are farther north, so I bet they are even more dramatic!

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OVERACTIVEELBOW 3/13/2013 2:31PM

    Wish I could come up with some new superlatives... but alas I will have to settle for my usual Thanks for sharing your trip and DD's pictures. We are so very lucky to have you as a friend.
Audra

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DR1939 3/13/2013 1:46PM

    Great pics and explanation. My husband was up north in MN one evening and walked out of the restaurant and THERE THEY WERE! We never see them down this far in southern MN, but the northeastern corner sees them most years. There's never any notice, or at least not enough to get up there.

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SHELLYBABE2 3/13/2013 11:57AM

    Superb pics - tfs your holiday with us :))

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RX_2_RV 3/13/2013 11:38AM

    Beautiful! That's on my bucket list! Thanks for sharing your photos with us.

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DOVESEYES 3/13/2013 11:24AM

    Wonderful pics.

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STODD251 3/13/2013 11:09AM

    That is so cool!

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SDLEE514 3/13/2013 10:36AM

    I hate being cold but that's the price you pay to see such a spectacular sight! Seeing the northern lights is definitely on my life to do list...so stunning!

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-POOKIE- 3/13/2013 9:51AM

    I would love to see these some day!

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SUZYMOBILE 3/13/2013 9:37AM

    Beautiful! I saw them once, in Massachusetts of all places, and the sense of silent eeriness was overwhelming.

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SAINTBETH 3/13/2013 9:32AM

    Great photos. You are so smart to dress warmly and know that the wimps would not endure. Thanks for the science lesson, too. Very interesting.

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BONOLICIOUS2 3/13/2013 9:26AM

    WOWWWWWWW That is INCREDIBLE! I have always wanted to see that and even your pictures are breathtaking, I can't imagine how beautiful it was in person!

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MARIANNE9855 3/13/2013 8:32AM

    Wow! just what we have been waiting for- sorry it was so cold- impressed how you braved the elements- do you know if they are any different in Alaska?
My brother lives there and I know he has seen them.

thanks so much for sharing pics and all the information with us! it seemed like a wonderful trip.

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PINKANGEL73 3/13/2013 8:28AM

    Fab pics. What a great experience.

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HA_MONICA83 3/13/2013 8:15AM

    AMAZING, awesome pictures! I bet you were so thrilled you braved out the elements!!! Thanks for sharing!!!:)

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SWAZY33 3/13/2013 8:04AM

    Great pics!! so cool :)

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LAVENDARFIRE87 3/13/2013 7:43AM

    emoticon that is just amazingly cool

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SKMINNY 3/13/2013 7:38AM

    Thanks for sharing, they are beautiful.

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NEW-CAZ 3/13/2013 7:37AM

    emoticon you are so lucky to have seen them emoticon stunning!

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RAINBOWCHOC 3/13/2013 7:27AM

    Mary Poppins had the only word to do them justice....y'know the one!

Thanks for sharing

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COCK-ROBIN 3/13/2013 7:27AM

    Beautiful!

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