Humanity's wonder at nature is exemplified in this extraordinary YouTube video by YouTube user "nbolt" who shot a time lapse video of the aurora borealis on a flight from San Francisco to Paris, shot with a 5d2, a time-lapse controller, and a 16mm – 35mm, mixed with some iPhone shots. Victor Ryan of Online Journal adds:
In all, 2,459 photos were condensed into two minutes. They also include amazing shots of the Canadian tundra. Nbolt said he had a whole row to himself on the Air France flight and the crew allowed him to set up a tripod and other gear to take the photos.
The aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, is a natural phenomena that creates a luminous glow of the atmosphere caused by energetic particles that enter the atmosphere from above. The University of Alaska at Fairbanks explains:
These energetic particles are mostly electrons, but protons also make aurora. The electrons travel along magnetic field lines. The Earth's magnetic field looks like that of a dipole magnet where the field lines are coming out and going into the Earth near the poles. The auroral electrons are thus guided to the high latitude atmosphere. As they penetrate into the upper atmosphere, the chance of colliding with an atom or molecule increases the deeper they go. Once a collision takes place, the atom or molecule takes some of the energy of the energetic particle and stores it as internal energy while the electron goes on with a reduced speed. The process of storing energy in a molecule or atom is called "exciting" the atom. An excited atom or molecule can return to the non-excited state (ground state) by sending off a photon, i.e. by making light.
The shining ribbons of light seem to have a life of their own as they glitter across the night sky. For those who are lucky enough to live where they can be seen often, it may seem passe. But for those who have never seen them, this video is a wonderful surprise of beauty in a world that seems adrift in a sea of bad news and ugliness. The Northern Lights remind us that life is beautiful, can and have been inspirational to writers across the ages.
To the Aurora Borealis
Artic fount of holiest light,
Springing through the winter night,
Spreading far behind yon hill,
When the earth lies dark and still,
Rippling o'er the stars, as streams
O'er pebbled beds in sunny gleams;
O for names, thou vision fair,
To express thy splendours rare!
Blush upon the cheek of night,
Posthumous, unearthly light,
Dream of the deep sunken sun,
Beautiful, sleep-walking one,
Sister of the moonlight pale,
Star-obscuring meteor veil,
Spread by heaven's watching vestals;
Sender of the gleamy crystals
Darting on their arrowy course
From their glittering polar source,
Upward where the air doth freeze
Round the sister Pleiades;–
Beautiful and rare Aurora,
In the heavens thou art their Flora,
Night-blooming Cereus of the sky,
Rose of amaranthine dye,
Hyacinth of purple light,
Or their Lily clad in white!
Who can name thy wondrous essence,
Thou electric phosphorescence?
Lonely apparition fire!
Seeker of the starry choir!
Restless roamer of the sky,
Who hath won thy mystery?
Mortal science hath not ran
With thee through the Empyrean,
Where the constellations cluster
Flower-like on thy branching lustre.
After all the glare and toil,
And the daylight's fretful coil,
Thou dost come so milt and still,
Hearts with love and peace fo fill;
As when after revelry
With a talking company,
Where the blaze of many lights
Fell on fools and parasites,
One by one the guests have gone,
And we find ourselves alone;
Only one sweet maiden near,
With a sweet voice low and clear,
Whispering music in our ear,–
So thou talkest to the earth
After daylight's weary mirth.
Is not human fantasy,
Wild Aurora, likest thee,
Blossoming in nightly dreams,
Like thy shifting meteor-gleams?
But a better type thou art
Of the strivings of the heart,
Reaching upward from the earth
To the SOUL that gave it birth.
When the noiseless beck of night
Summons out the inner light
That hath hid its purer ray
Through the lapses of the day–
Then like thee, thou Northern Morn,
Instincts which we deemed unborn,
Gushing from their hidden source
Mount upon their heavenward course
And the spirit seeks to be
Filled with God's eternity.
–Christopher Pearse Cranch