One thing that is great about studying the aurora is the stories people share about their experiences seeing the northern lights. Last night at the contra dance I must have been feeling particularly chatty, because I ended up getting stories from two (or more maybe?) people.
First was from Annie, who grew up in Minnesota, and therefore had some good experience with seeing aurora. She told me about the best aurora she had ever seen which she described as totally white with no colors, and all pointing up to one point in the sky directly above them. It is good to have reminders that what I am studying is more than just plots and data. The aurora is both a fascinating science, but also an incredibly beautiful thing to behold.
The second story was from Ray, and this one was more along the comedy line than the wonderment line. The really funny thing was that he was telling me the story while we were dancing, so he'd say a small bit of his story, and then the dance would have us with neighbors, so the story would pause, but then we'd go back to our partners, and he'd give me the next bit. Very entertaining. Anyhow. So, his story was from the 70's when he was in college. He said he had a friend who was a pretty heavy drug user, but Ray was a pretty straight-laced kid. Well one night those two, along with some others, were out at the football field, and he looked up and saw this beautiful aurora. So he pointed it out to the others, and the drug-friend said "you see it too?!?!"
That cracked me up quite a bit. Mostly because I wasn't sure where the story was going, and the telling of it took so much longer because of how it kept getting broken up.
I'm glad I didn't have anyone tell me they've heard the aurora, or ask if it was true that you can hear it. The question is always posed in such a child-like manner with wonder, awe, and hope all over it. I just hate to burst that bubble.