[image: aldebaran group expedition: aurora 2002]

What you see here is neither a heavenly dance of the aeternal Gods nor the Poesie of Nature; both of these descriptions, rather, would be favoured by those inclined to rely on the subtle mechanics of Mortal Poetry, among whose number I usually find myself, however!: the Northern Lights OR the Aurora Borealis (oh yes more poetics, this time the antiquated Aurora, Roman goddess of the Dawn, popping up with an ever-so-wry smile tailed by Boreas, the Northern Wind) have recently inspired in me some strange desire for the fruits of Rational Thought, manifesting in a mega-web-quest for at least a quasi-scientific explanation behind this celestial phenomenomenon. And so, and so we have—

The Aurora Borealis comes about in the following manner:

  • Charged particles (for example, electrons) in the sun’s solar wind collide with atoms in the earth’s upper atmosphere.
  • These atoms gain energy as a result of this collision.
  • The atoms then release said energy in the form of Light and Aurora is once again born eternal.
  • The multifarious array of colours occurs because different atoms produce different hues when excited:

Thus the heavenly dance, the divine jig, the goddess Aurora’s celestial renewal, born again and again no longer to the deafening sounds of Angelic choirs but now and ever to the roaring crash of Ra’s harsh breath. This is the science of the matter, in stark contrast to the plethora of folklore apparent such as the Inuit belief that the Northern Lights were the spirits of the dead playing football with a walrus’ skull.

However, this is NOT the whole story, haha! What else, pray tell, could there possibly be?The New Scientist will inform you in Magnetic Dance makes Auroras glow that the Northern Lights along with their Southern counterparts are not merely

governed by the strength of the solar wind alone, but by the interplay between the Earth’s and the Sun’s magnetic fields,…

Remember the shock-horror-o-my-heavens response elicited from you, a child at the time, by the simple fact that the earth is a huge fucking magnet?!

Well, what the research says is that the earth’s dipole is responsible for all weird and wacky types of ‘space weather’, including the Auroras. Moreover, there is now a single formula to predict the strength of the Lights. Although this is by no means the discovery of the God particle, Poets of the Earth would have us believe this formula akin to the original manuscript of The Art of Fugue.

This is why the Auroras occur at the poles.

Now this is what really interests me: the geological records of the earth tell us that over the last billion years, the poles have flipped many times. This Hegelian nightmare could have absurdly extreme consequences, including the annihilation of Everything as we know it. Right now we are between pole reversals and the next one is long overdue:

[image: check this out]

Were the poles to flip, slowly or ever-so-suddenly, neither you nor I would need to travel to anywhere to see the Northern/Southern Lights, the poles would surely find us, each and every one of us around the globe and just a step behind would be the bright lights, whether they be Aurora in her chariot, the Inuit dead kickin’ around a walrus’ skull or just plain ol’ oxygen, nitrogen, neon and the rest bathing the whole damned world in some of the prettiest configurations of hue, form and texture we ever did see:

[image: from nordlicht]

[image: wow. this is from nasa’s space weather webpage]

[image: of course, of course, a great site here]