Northern Lights

A social media post this evening alerted me to the possibility of seeing the Aurora Borealis tonight. Having enjoyed this sight before, I looked forward to seeing the lights again. I don’t know how long one is supposed to wait up for this sighting, but I go to bed early these days, so perhaps I have missed my opportunity.

Of course, the conditions have to be just right. The right temperature. No clouds. Minimal air pollution. You get the idea.

Most of those conditions seemed to be in order tonight, and I did my due diligence. I turned out the lights in my home, turned off the TV (periodically), and looked out on the skies that I see from my windows. I live near a city, so I understand that some street lights and walkway lights are essential, but even so I was struck by the abundance of extraneous light.

One boat in the harbour, in particular, drew my attention. These same holiday lights have been shining here since long before Christmas. I have a hunch there are people living on this boat year-round, but even so the lights seem a bit excessive in late February.

Then there is the unnecessarily bright boat ramp that is so well lit you would think it was well-used, but it is not. It is a nautical albatross. It leads to nowhere. In fact, dog walkers, joggers, and strollers use it as a turnaround point before heading back to the city. I have never yet seen it used to access marine vessels.

Even before I photographed this I had noticed an amber glow on the eastward horizon. At first I thought this might be an early incarnation of the desired heavenly phenomenon, but now I think I was overly optimistic. It is more likely to be light pollution from mainland Vancouver.

So, I’m thinking about heading off to bed as I write this and I still haven’t seen the Aurora Borealis tonight. I am, however, much more aware of northern light pollution than I was yesterday, and I’m glad I still have good memories of the gorgeous aurora I have seen in the past.


  1. In Red Deer one time, I asked a taxi driver who regularly did night shifts – how often he saw the northern lights. He said ” All the time.” Lots of clear nights in the prairies. I’ll never forget one night driving home from book club with others in the car. We were on a country road outside of Red Deer and we saw the Hale-Bopp comet, a full moon and the northern lights all in one sky. I don’t think anything can beat that- and we just happened to see it because we were out that night.

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