Editor's Note: Paula Trus's photography work is internationally known. She continues to inspire me through her work and I hope her story and photographs will inspire you too.
Putting on the layers...first the socks, and long undies, a sweater, snowsuit, mitts, hat and a scarf. We would lay on top of what seemed to be a ten-foot tall snow bank, making snow angels and daydreaming while staring at the sky—mesmerized by the Milky Way and brightly coloured dancing lights.
My first memories of the night sky and Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are from my childhood and the feelings of excitement and wonder that I felt back then return each time the opportunity presents itself to view these natural attractions.
The Aurora Borealis is created by electrically charged particles hitting each other as they travel from the sun into earth's atmosphere. Researchers have determined that the Aurora peaks every 11 years.
In Sault Ste. Marie & Algoma we have good chances to see the Aurora when they are active. On any clear night there is always a superb show of stars regardless of Auroral activity. Over the years, some of the locations I have viewed the Aurora are as close as the top of landslide hill at the Hiawatha Highlands in Sault Ste. Marie within the city limits, Highway 552 in Goulais and on the North shore of Lake Superior, Wawa, and Hawk Junction, Ontario.
The best places to view the Aurora around Sault Ste. Marie & the area are at locations where there are no other light sources such as street lights or traffic to disrupt the sky lights. Find a place where you have an unobstructed view of the horizon directly North – Northwest. Depending on the strength of the Aurora you may also get a chance to see them dancing above the horizon or overhead on an extremely active night.
The video linked to this story took us several nights to shoot using two Digital SLRs. We begin capturing footage around 10 p.m. until around 1 a.m. and then have a second shoot from 1 a.m. to 4 or 5 a.m. It's exciting to see what has been captured. Even though our bodies are telling us to get back to sleep, we check out all the shots as soon as we get back to camp.
A bright glow, spotlights and surreal painted colours in the Northern sky ... whether you call them Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, dawn of the north, or dancing spirits, there is no doubt that this natural occurrence is one of the most binding and incredible experiences to connect you with nature. It is awesome. Can't wait to get out there again!
Some other great resources
Check out more Northern Lights stories in Ontario