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Smithers skies putting on a show lately

Marisca keeps missing the show but enjoying everyone’s photos

The skies above Smithers have been putting on quite a show in recent nights.

Even though I am awake multiple times a night with my children, I haven’t been able to catch them for myself.

However, I’m loving scrolling through my social media feeds in the mornings, admiring all the beautiful shots friends of mine have been taking.

It is truly incredible. In fact, friends in all different parts of the country have been posting photos of the northern lights.

It is unusual to see them in southern Ontario and yet some people have been, even just an hour or two north of Toronto.

Auroras occur when charged particles (electrons and protons) collide with gases in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Those collisions produce tiny flashes that fill the sky with colourful light. Different colours are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding.

Usually, northern lights can only been seen far north of us because of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Solar storms cause a display of auroras for those in the far north and south of the world, underneath the part of Earth’s magnetic field that can let the solar wind through.

But sometimes, like last week, a super strong storm can cause them to be visible much closer to the equator.

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are commonly seen in the night sky in the northern hemisphere. Auroras in the southern hemisphere are known as the southern lights, or aurora australis.

It is a rare occurrence, maybe even a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some to see the beautiful light display.

Local photographer Ashlee of Ashlee Nadine Photography said she has captured them a couple of times recently and posted the beautiful images to her Instagram account.

“I’ve seen the northern lights quite a few times and recently started photographing them,” she said.

“It requires a lot of patience as they’re pretty unpredictable and things can change quickly. Most times to the naked eye they aren’t as colourful as what a camera - even an iPhone can pick up.”

She added a long exposure and a still camera is needed to get a good image.

Aside from the beautiful display of lights, sometimes the northern lights even make sound.

At one time, scientists denied the claim that aurora makes noise. However, recently, a study out of Finland, found that the Aurora Borealis does produce a sound that can be heard. People have heard crackling, whizzing and buzzing noises.

But be careful not to make a noise back. There is an urban legend that says not to tease the northern lights by whistling or singing under them.

This may alert the lights to your presence and they can reach down and carry you up.

Others believe the Auroras are the spirits of the dead who remain in the sky, trying to communicate with their loved ones here on Earth.

I think I like that visual better.

READ MORE: Facing fears


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Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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