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Live from Onboard

Aurora Borealis

Monday 29 August, 0145, 158nm to go, SOG 5.4kn

The Inuit think they are the souls of the dead; the Scandinavian folklore
describes them as the final resting place for the spirits of unmarried
women; and the Japanese believe(d) that a child conceived under the dancing
rays of the aurora borealis would be fortunate in life.
These days scientists have unraveled the what's and how's, but even they can
still not predict the when's.

After an off watch with lots of tossing and turning and precious little
sleep, I was in no hurry to get back out there in the dark cold and wet
fog...but then I got a big surprise: Aurora Borealis!
An incredible display of light in the sky, with white and green streaking up
into the sky, moving about, it is almost like a cloud of light that is
constantly changing and moving. Beautiful.
And a great start to our watch.

The prosaic explanation is that the aurora borealis is 'simply' lots of ions
ejected from the sun that now hit the earth's atmoshpere, collide with
hydrogen and oxygen atoms and, as they are accelerating through the
atmoshpere, attracted by the magnetic fields of our poles, create these
draperies of green and magenta light in the sky.
Seeing these amazing lights in the sky tonight though, there was nothing
prosaic about it though and the scientist can explain away all the want.
Beta-girl as I might have been in Uni, I'm with the Inuit and the
Scandinavians on this one: there's got to be more to it. For now, let's just
call it poetic amazement.
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