While I sit in my living room at 4am writing this blog post to only the glow of some dim solar lamps on the patio outside, a salt lamp on the windowsill and the ever so cosy cool white glow of a laptop screen, I can see over the neighbour's house across the street another small auroral break-up. This after a night balancing every weather app & bookmarked website on my iPhone with intuition and luck evading more torrential downpours and hours of circling thunder and lightning storms.
It was the August night we all knew, loved, and craved. There wasn't a cloud anywhere to be found, the mosquito count ended at less than five, and we spent hours under fantastically active auroras with the slight whiff of forest fire smoke.
The highway wouldn't budge, and neither would the cloud bank - not until after 4am when the sun was basically rising, and guests needed to be getting to the airport for their flight. We tried and tried running up and down the highway searching for where the road and the clear skies would meet, but it just wasn't to be. Last night yielded some strong aurora through broken cloud, and about a half hour of fairly clear skies, but not too much more.
After a long night of highway driving chasing down clear skies and seeing noctilucent clouds with the aurora peer at us through windows of clear skies, we resigned to a slow drive back into town.
In the last moments before streetlamps, of course with our cameras all tucked away for the night, pinks danced above our heads, if only briefly.
In a lot of ways, it was the night we were dreaming of. No forest fire smoke, dead clear skies during the darkest hours, and a range of temperatures to keep the mosquitos away and my hands comfortable without gloves. Is this even real life?
Really the only thing that was missing on a night like this was any photographic proof of the dozens of meteors we enjoyed seeing fall all across the sky.
These few nights now, there's a perfect little back-up plan called the Perseid meteor shower. If the aurora is quiet, at least we have that, and in some way, maybe it's just as magical. If the aurora is very quiet, it's all the better viewing for the Perseids. If the aurora is active, it's a perfect added bonus to our night. There were some variables to this depending on the strength of the aurora and her timing.
None of these variables really included getting unexpectedly stumped by cloud for the first half of the night. It was the kind of cloud that as soon as I got the binoculars focused on one star, clouds ate it up for several minutes revealing another halfway across the sky. Interesting, maybe. Laughably annoying, more than a little.
Not just the mosquitos, but tonight it was more the clouds doing the eating us up. We drove and drove, and added a little clear sky between us and them, and while we caught the aurora for a short while, the clouds eventually won out tonight.
Whether it was loyalty or luck, I think it doesn't matter. It's just fun getting to have conversations about how slowly or how quickly the aurora can appear in the sky, and then some ten minutes later to see her in just seconds appear entirely overhead in the most fluid arc. Tonight was full of the most beautiful cloudscapes over a mirror lake, the faintest pinks and greens to our eyes in the aurora, and the buzz of mosquitos circling for that one square centimetre on your face not covered in deet.
The fourth of August, and we are already up against cloud fronts barrelling in from the west bringing 15+ millimetres of rain. It wasn't supposed to begin this way. The first half of August is full of those sure thing, choose your favourite locations because the weather is perfect kinds of nights.
But hey, the weather system seemed to stall just long enough for whips of green to pulse above us after some hours of patiently waiting, listening to loons on lakes, and trying to figure out just how I've forgotten so much about all the astronomy it took years to self-learn in just three months of not speaking it every night.
Somehow, night after night, I talked my way through late evening escapades into the countryside for another year on this little blog. You've been here visiting, flattering me in person telling me you check in on this little corner of the web and that means just as much being able to guide you out into remote corners of frozen lakes to freeze our buns off together. So I'm going to leave it short and sweet, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for visiting, for trusting me, for supporting me and allowing me to continue to live this dream of chasing the aurora every night - a dream that means just as much now, no, that's a lie. A dream that means a lot more now than it did a number of years ago when it was still just a dream in a little studio apartment in the centre of a bustling city in the south. So thank you, I'll leave you with some of my favourite images from this past aurora season, and I'll see you back here sometime in the beginning of August.
So now, there is just one way to end this post and this season, and that is with matching northern lights t-shirts, of course. Have the most beautiful summer, my loves!