April 19, 2017 Melanie Windridge

5 reasons you need to see the aurora

You’ve read about it, you’ve seen the pictures, it’s somewhere on your bucket list…. Well, here are 5 reasons why you really should go to see the aurora.

1. It’s one of Earth’s most spectacular natural phenomena.

It’s one of the seven natural wonders. National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez is capturing the Seven Natural Wonders of the World with Microsoft Lumia, and the picture below is taken on a lumia! See Stephen’s journal and gallery for more.

Northern lights photograph taken with the Lumia 950 XL. Courtesy of National Geographic.

Northern lights photograph taken with the Lumia 950 XL. Courtesy of National Geographic.

2. It gives you the opportunity to visit somewhere new, beautiful and fascinating

And according to Condé Nast Traveler, Astro-tourism is now a thing. The aurora is generally confined to high-latitude regions. It occurs in rings around the poles and is most commonly seen between about 65 and 75 degrees latitude. So head into the Arctic!

The region of the northern hemisphere where aurorae are frequently seen.

The region of the northern hemisphere where aurorae are frequently seen.

3. Photos and videos are beautiful, but to experience the aurora as part of the landscape is incomparable.

Self-portrait. The Green in Greenland by Paul Zizka Photography.

Self-portrait. The Green in Greenland by Paul Zizka Photography.

This photo is one of a collection of self-portraits in incredible landscapes by Paul Zizka Photography. Check out his website or find him on Facebook.

4. It’s a bonding experience – to share something this incredible brings you closer to yourself and others.

See what Cloud Appreciation Society member Brigette had to say after their trip to Blachford Lake Lodge, Canada to see the northern lights this year:

“The CAS Sky Holiday marks an inflection point in my life — I have a new relationship with the cold, nature, silence, and the CAS. I made new friends that I plan to have for the rest of my life.”
Brigette Bustos


5. Its invigorating and calming all at once – the perfect antidote to hectic lifestyles

Skiing and the aurora.

Skiing and the aurora at Blachford Lake. Invigorating and calming.

Though a word of warning – you might get hooked. Seeing it once is never enough. You always want more. The “dancing” of the aurora with faster movement and colour is always sudden and short-lived, yet mesmerising, so you’re willing to wait for hours out in the cold in the hope that it will happen again.

Whilst watching the aurora in Canada recently I was reminded of James Pugsley (amateur astronomer, photographer, aurora fanatic) telling me, ‘Well now you’re hooked!’ Read about it in this extract from my book.

Extract from Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights, Chapter 5 in Yellowknife, Canada
As we talked about James’ commitment to AuroraMAX I remembered our discussions on the first night, when we had driven out to the disused gold mine. We had laughed about James’ addiction to the northern lights. One of the first things he asked me the night we met was whether I had seen the aurora. I told him about my experience in Kiruna and how, although I had seen it, I wanted to see more, to see it better. I longed to see the whole sky fill up with light above me, rippling and twisting. Yet despite the sky’s relative tranquillity in Kiruna, I had still felt grateful to see it.

‘I find it fascinating,’ I had told James, ‘how these coloured lights are able to stir something deep inside, even whilst scientifically I know exactly what is causing them.’

James let out a whooping laugh. ‘Well now you’re hooked, is what that means!’ he cried. ‘Welcome aboard!’ He told me how he had seen thousands of aurorae and yet still each one grabs his attention. ‘What you experienced,’ he continued, ‘is probably the most common reaction to the very grand event that you were seeing unfurled before your eyes. You were struggling with trying to describe how it makes you feel. Whether you are a scientist or not, as a human being you have observed something incredible, and there’s no way you can explain it with a few simple words.’

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About the Author

Melanie Windridge Dr Melanie Windridge is a plasma physicist, speaker, writer… with a taste for adventure. She has a PhD in fusion energy, is Communications Consultant for fusion start-up Tokamak Energy, and has worked in education with the Ogden Trust, Anturus and the Your Life campaign. Melanie is an expert in the aurora and loves the mountains. She believes science and exploration go hand in hand. In 2018 she climbed Mount Everest.