Aurora Borealis: The Northern Lights explained

Posted on January 18, 2013 by Dr. Lynda

If you’ve ever had the rare pleasure of seeing the Northern Lights, you know the wonder that must have left primitive peoples believing in all manner of “other worldly” concepts.

Source: Moyan Brenn

The night Dr. Chuck and I brought our baby home from the hospital was a miracle in itself because she was born weighing  only one pound. The Northern Lights, also called the Aurora Borealis, were shining bright as we drove up our long lane. We stopped and got out of the car for a short time, seeing our breaths in the cold air,  and stood motionless for the first time in 4 months. Since Louisa’s stay in intensive care, we had not quieted our minds except to pass out from exhaustion and worry every night.

And that night we leaned against the car, looking at something exactly like this across the Vermont landscape:

Image: Northern Lights

As the northern lights sparkled in green tentacles, wave after wave above us, there was a moment when we almost collapsed in each other’s arms from the sudden realization that we had made it home, finally, with this little life still shining. Even though we are not spooky dreamers, we thought the sky was a sign of good things to come and it turned out just fine; she’s now a completely happy, healthy 17 years old.

The Northern Lights remind us of the power of possibility.

Just recently, I was flying home from Italy after a trip with some high school students, and the jet was completely dark while the stars sparked outside and most slumbered. I was thinking about the way that trip might change many of their young lives, and how it had changed mine. When I turned to gaze down at the cold North Atlantic ocean, somewhere over Greenland, this is what I saw:

Image: Dr. Lynda's northern light show

Beautiful! It went on, changed shape and colors for about 20 minutes. I don’t want to sound “spooky”, but I did have the sense that there was a “take away message”.

If this is your first introduction to this magic of Mother Nature’s light show, enjoy the new understanding, and if you know the experience that comes with being a part of a colorful evening sky, enjoy learning more about it!

Here’s a video to explain what’s going on to create these spectacles. Take a look…


If you’re like the EWC team, that just wasn’t enough Northern Light-magic! For more photos via National Geographic  take a look on NatGeo‘s site, here.

Have a great day! Stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda




1 University of Oslo Department of Physics, “Aurora Borealis Explained.”, July 4, 2011.
2 Clapp, David, “Aurora Pictures: Best Fall Photos of Northern Lights.” National Geographic, October 23, 2013.