The other day I got text message from Adam: ‘We’re going out tonight’. It was all a bit mysterious, but after some questioning (I am a journalist after all!) Adam revealed that while waiting for a flight he’d read about a massive solar storm that was due to create optimal conditions for spotting the aurora borealis as far south as the English midlands.
He kept his eyes on the forecast and various scientific readings throughout the course of the day and that night we decided to go looking for the northern lights.
Adam had witnessed the aurora borealis a few years ago during a holiday to Iceland. Although I’ve never held much interest in space, our solar system and astronomy his enthusiasm for this phenomenon was contagious and I soon found myself as excited for what the evening might bring.
We decided to walk up a part of the Malvern Hills called British Camp, due to its proximity and the fact it’s the ‘darkest’ part of the hills, away from streetlights and houses.
Once on top of the hills we rolled out a blanket, opened a bottle of wine and made ourselves comfortable. Adam set up his camera and started snapping. Although it looked quite dark from where we were, his camera was able to pick up the last glimpses of daylight and light pollution from nearby places like Worcester. It was really quite amazing to see – a view the naked eye simply wasn’t able to capture.
We sat for a good few hours waiting and watching, but sadly the clouds soon came rolling in and the relevant readings for ‘optimal norther light viewing’ dropped, so we decided to call it a night.
Just as we started to pack up, we saw two torch lights coming towards us. Both Adam and I assumed it was another pair of ‘night watchers’ also eagerly awaiting the aurora borealis. They found a spot a few hundred metres away from us and then suddenly started to sing! It was in a language neither Adam or I recognised, but the tune was beautifully melodic and somewhat haunting. It was completely unexpected but a somewhat lovely way to end our evening. I’m aware of pagan ceremonies that take place on the hills at certain times of the year (mainly summer and winter solstice), so whether this was something similar I’m not sure.
Have you ever seen the northern (or southern) lights? What was it like?