One of the most beautiful and mysterious phenomenon offers by cosmos beyond the shooting stars, eclipses or the contemplation of a comet are undoubtedly the northern lights. Complex dancing forms in bright colors ranging from yellow and green through orange to pink and purple.
These auroras have captivated the man´s imagination for thousands years, however it is absolutely exotic and strange phenomenon for the great majority of mortals who do not live near the polar circles. Because of that fascination that I always have for the unknown, the different, I traveled to one of the most northeastern places in Canada, near the border with Alaska. There I was lucky to capture the most beautiful images that the human eye can see in the night sky.
Whitehorse retains the shape of the old American West colonizers peoples. Even many of its buildings still imitate those of the canteens, stores and hotels of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Although it is the capital of the Yukon state, barely has a little more than 24 thousand inhabitants and at first glance it would seem that here there is nothing to do.
Behind the minimalist and solitary landscape, Whitehorse and the Yukon Territory are developing as a budding tourist power, adventure destinations, Winter sports and contemplation of wildlife are some of their offers.
But what for me was really exciting to visit was a distant place, a beauty hidden in the depths of dark nights. A night show of lights and fantasy, which you can only enjoy if you are as far as possible from the lights of the city, the northern lights. The famous northern lights.
Getting to see the northern lights nowadays does not require complicated expeditions or scientific accompaniments, but it requires at least a good preparation and selection of the place and dates. Auroras are most easily seen in the northern hemisphere in countries such as Canada, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Russia and Greenland. The most appropriate time goes from September to April, throughout the winter and early spring, but there is no point in choosing the place well, if not the weather forecast is taken into account.
That is why it was definitive to select Canada as my destination. I chose a window between the 18th and the 22nd of March in which clear skies were expected at night for the city of Whitehorse, and yet, even with the forecast, the right place and the date, the aurora borealis is a cosmic phenomenon that is beyond our control, so to see them is not guaranteed. Bearing in mind that we must be as far as possible from the light pollution of cities, the selected observatory would be several kilometers from the downtown of Whitehorse in the middle of the polar forest. The ideal would be a moonless night, since the light of our satellite can also interfere with the light of auroras. Despite having a full moon, I was optimistic.
My group was ready to observe that natural wonder, but the hours passed and the anxiety made us think that maybe our trip had been useless. However, around 00:30 on the 19th of March, on our first outing, as if it were a mirage, a slight green vein began to be drawn in the night sky. I had been told that the auroras could be very light or very intense or very long or very short and at times I thought that would be all that I would see. But the thin line soon began to expand both in its diameter and in its length.
Suddenly the whole silhouette of the snow-capped mountains seemed covered by a fluorescent halo, intense and permanent. For the second night, the phenomenon was repeated almost with a programmed precision, practically at the same time. A green vein like the previous day was drawn in space. But nothing had prepared me for the spectacular cosmic dance that the solar winds had orchestrated for that night.
What began as a green vein multiplied in several, appearing and disappearing in different places in the sky. At times they unfolded and stretched like the serpentines of the gods, later giving rise to vertical languages that grew as if forming an immense flame that covered half the space of the sky, flaming between yellows and fluorescent greens. Gently releasing light purple and pink veils.
One and a thousand times I had read, heard and seen photographs and videos of this prodigy, but I always wondered how the human eye would capture them directly and not through a camera.
By the third day, heaven was once again generous with us. We were rewarded with a new presentation of this concert, this stellar ballet, which I was finally able to capture in beautiful images. The most beautiful natural spectacle I have ever seen.
Note: Initially published in Semana magazine, Canada special.