About 10pm, Tuesday night, in spite of frigid temperatures, news of a stronger-than-average solar burst enticed me out of doors in search of the elusive Aurora. I say "elusive" because in the past few years I've noticed a trend toward fewer Aurora sightings and, even when spotted, the color (usually just green) has been less vibrant, even milky.
I also say "elusive" because in the ten years I've lived in this village, I've never been able to capture the Northern Lights photographically. And even these meager shots in the dark (literally) were taken without a tripod, so they're nothing to brag about from a technical standpoint.
Still, I feel like one of those Sasquatch hunters who has finally snagged a clear, indisputable photo of his quarry! I caught the Aurora in my own back yard! How terrific is that?
Was it worth kneeling in the snow?
...in the dark?
...@ 47 below?
...while brushing frost off my eyelashes and nose?
And a fun little factoid about wearing snow pants and a heavy parka is that no one can see the pajamas underneath! :)
So if you're interested in the Aurora Borealis, here are some extremely informative sites that delve deeper into both the scientific and photographic aspects of the subject. I found graphs that illustrate and explain the dearth of aurora sightings I've noticed over the last few years. How validating! :)
That's a snow fence in the foreground, the shadowed riverbank just beyond, and the frozen river is that white space between the two. Beyond that, it's all tundra, flat tundra, without trees or any other sort of obstruction, which makes that sliver of laser-bright luminescence all the more noticeable...and strange.
In all the years that I've lived in the Arctic, I've never seen anything like this. There have been plenty of clear nights in which the moon illuminated the entire snow-covered expanse creating an ocean-like reflection as far as the eye could see.
This night was different.
It's as if a spotlight was trained on one, specific, amazingly limited area.
Very pretty. But kind of eerie.
Sort of Twilight Zone-ish...without the pesky aliens.
Welcome to the Arctic! This space is dedicated to observations and experiences related to daily life in the Inupiat Eskimo village of Atqasuk. Questions and comments are invited. Thanks for visiting! Quyanaqpaq!
nuna:tundra, the land atikluk:snow shirt, parka cover
Interested in Inuit culture? Check out these films...
The Fast Runner is an excellent representation of ancient Inuit culture. The R-rating is for nudity, violence, and some language. Subtitles are utilized throughout. I do not recommend this film for children, but it's an extremely accurate portrayal of the culture. It was introduced to me by an Inupiat woman who raved about it. And I agree!
For a preview, click here.
The Snow Walker is another excellent representation of Inuit culture circa 1940's. This film is rated PG, I'm guessing for language. No subtitles that I remember. It starts a little slow, but gets much better. It will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the survival skills of this culture.
For a preview, click here.
Great For Kids!
Whale Snow by Debby Dahl Edwardson is a warm and culturally sensitive story centered on the Inupiat subsistence tradition of whaling. It is available in both English and Inupiaq translation. The illustrations, by Annie Patterson are exquisite and add to the quiet softness that the story inspires.
To order this title on Amazon.com, click here.
The Alaska Geographic series is an excellent informational resource. The edition entitled North Slope Now deals exclusively with this area and even features relatives of my students. Although it was published in 1989, it is still current enough to provide a general understanding of culture, lifestyle, and issues faced by this northern-most region.
To order this title from Alaska Geographic, click here.
More about Kaktovik Disaster of 2005 (from Dec post, "The Edge")