Tag Archives: aurora

Hoarding Daylight

Moose tracks

It’s still winter in Alaska: it was -10F on Sunday morning, and expected to drop to -20F Monday night, but the switch has been flipped. The sled dogs are running, the ice carvings are on display, and the aurora shows itself almost nightly.

March in Alaska.

Already, we have over 13 hours of visible light during the day, and our days are gaining length by almost 7 minutes with each spin of the Earth.

March is a beautiful time in Alaska’s Interior.


“Aurora Borealis”

Oil on canvas, by Frederic Edwin Church; Circa 1865

Frederic Edwin Church based the above painting on the sketches from the Isaac Israel Hayes’ 1860-61 polar expedition.


Nanuqsaurus

The Nanuqsaurus; Image credit: CBC

Fossils of the previously unknown species of dinosaur were discovered in Alaska’s North Slope in 2006. A cousin of the T-Rex, the Nanuqsaurus (polar bear-lizard) was originally thought to be approximately half the size of a T-Rex, but more recent evidence points to the Arctic dino as being in the size range of the Albertosaurus.

The Nanuqsaurus roamed what is now Alaska some 70 million years ago, and new findings have evidence of the species living in what is now Denali National Park.

The reconstructed skull of a Nanuqsaurus in the Perot Museum


Holidaze Travel

The Aurora Winter Train, Alaska Railroad Depot; Fairbanks

I had several friends travel Outside over the Holidays, while I was quite content to enjoy the cabin life in Fairbanks. Getting out wasn’t the problem. It was getting back to Alaska which has proved challenging. Most friends had layovers in Seattle, which were long enough to officially be reclassified as detours. One had a detour in Anchorage; getting oh so close to Fairbanks, but yet divided by a mountain of snow.

Two friends attempted to travel from Arizona to Fairbanks. There was a detour in Seattle, followed by a last minute flight to Anchorage. A second detour was then encountered. All flights between Alaska’s largest cities were booked out for days. Determined to get home, they booked a ride on the Alaska Railroad. I was excited for them, probably more excited than they were. I have never ridden that set of rails in the winter.

Out of the blue, I received a text from them. They were in Denali Park. “How long is this ride?” they asked. I hesitated, but eventually told them it was a 12 hour trip. One way. The Alaska Railroad is not high speed travel.

Late on New Year’s Day, I get a call. Taxis from the depot are three hours out. It’s -35F, but I head out the door to provide pickup/limo service.

The locomotive did look good, all decked out in Christmas lights.


“Northern Lights Above a Cabin in Winter”

Oil on canvas by Jeanne Laurence (1887-1980); Undated

Nightlights

The Big Dipper behind a shimmering veil

“Northern Lights, Alaska Highway”

Oil on canvas, by Canadian artist Alexander Young Jackson, circa 1943

I must admit…

… this is an even better view of the Aurora than I have in Fairbanks.

Photo credit: NASA

Fairbanks retakes the lead

Graphic credit: National Weather Service – Fairbanks

I do realize that some people find the long summer days of Interior Alaska difficult to deal with. I am not one of those people; I absolutely revel in them. Arguably, the land of the midnight sun has the best summers and we have no shortage of activities to fill the many sunlit hours.

Graphic credit: NOAA

Officially, spring has arrived, but winter is not giving up just yet. Atqasuk on Alaska’s North Slope saw -53F on Sunday morning. The Interior was considerably warmer with Denali Park at -27F, Fort Yukon -13F and Fairbanks a balmy -8F.

As the graphic above illustrates, Alaska and Canada have had a string of amazing northern lights viewing. Even with the waxing moon, the aurora has been dominating the northern skies of late, putting on some impressive shows.


Light Side Up

The powerful lure of the aurora borealis:

Light Side Up trailer

After a year of planning, three photographers came to Fairbanks to attempt something never accomplished. They would try to “capture cinema-quality footage of the northern lights” from the stratosphere.

The new film from Lost Horizon Creative, documents the team’s efforts to overcome not only the technical aspects of filming above 100,000 feet, but also the incredible vastness that is Interior Alaska. The 30 minute short film is well worth viewing if you are even remotely into the aurora borealis, Alaska or photography.

The trailer for the film is above, the entire film can also be viewed on youtube.