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Amazing Aurora!

It’s visible in Finland — as in northern Europe, not Finland, Minn.

How do I know? Because I started paying attention. My aunt was visiting a few weekends ago on a mission to see the northern lights. We figured we’d better learn more, so we started checking the forecast (space weather!)

Unfortunately, there is no website for actually making the lights happen, but we did learn that it was going to be “quiet” going on “extremely quiet” each night she was here. But we learned a ton and had fun in the process.

First of all, we read up on the Aurora Borealis together – the Conservation Volunteer has a great article on the phenomenon, and how to catch it, in this month’s issue. That was night number one. On night number 2, we drove around Duluth’s residential neighborhoods after dark and took in the, er, leftover Christmas lights. Kind of festive, and after all my aunt was in the north (from the south) and they were lights.

As if that weren’t enough, on day number 3 we went to the Lake Superior Writers Open Memoir Group. One of the writers read a beautiful passage about northern lights and their reflection off the snow. On night number four, my husband and I recounted that amazing display of northern lights that were shockingly colorful right here in town. The reds (yes, there were reds!) blues and greens when on for what seemed like hours and we stood on the lawn with our neighbors taking them in. That was at a high point in the auroral cycle – at least six years ago judging by the age my daughter is now. We told her all this to entice her to come back. That is, watch the forecast, drop everything when the lights are gonna be good, and hop the next plane to Duluth.

So my ears naturally perked up when I heard that there was a huge solar flare that hit the earth at 9 this morning. And I was thinking of calling her back up here. The auroral forecast for northern Minnesota is  “extreme.” It was a beautiful clear day, but now that it is dark, the clouds have rolled in. Aurora. Not. Visible. 

I think I’m happy just knowing that in all likelihood the lights are dancing behind the cloudy curtain. See PRI’s coverage on Finland this evening by clicking here.

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