The aurora borealis has been popping up all over the web lately, and we don’t mean the obligatory time-lapse photos and videos that emerge from the northern stretches of the universe. It just so happens that we are in the midst of the best northern lights viewing the world has seen in decades, and will likely see for another 11 years.
The science can sound a bit complicated, but this article does a good job explaining why, if you’re anywhere near the Northern hemisphere, you should make a point of checking the aurora forecast and hanging out under the stars in the next few weeks.
According to scientists, one specific sunspot the size of Jupiter (sunspot 2192, to be precise) has recently produced several solar flares directed at Earth. With the right conditions, explained here, these flares have the potential to cause extra-special auroral displays. Over the last few weeks, we have seen a rise both in frequency and strength of displays, but the “extra special” part still fell a bit short of what was expected. Let’s just say that on a scale of one to 10 we’ve seen plenty of eights and nines. We’ll take it!
In other news, USA Today published a heart-warming story about a nine-year-old boy, Ben Pierce, who is going blind and — thanks to donations from across the country — has been spending the last few months traveling around the U.S. One of his wishes while he still has his eyesight was to see the magnificence of the northern lights. Well, last month Ben and his family made the trek up to Alaska where on a mountaintop outside of Fairbanks, Ben’s wish came true. Grab your tissues for this one!
Have you been aching to see the lights for yourself? Responsibletravel.com published the ultimate Northern Lights Travel Guide, an interactive guide to everything you ever wanted to know about the northern lights and how and where to see them, including a brief history of the phenomena and a short quiz that will tell you if a northern lights holiday is for you.
And finally, in celebration of the season of lights upon us (northern lights, that is), LIFE.com is paying homage in a photo special to the “ghostly streamers” by re-publishing a series of vintage aurora photos taken by photographer J.R. Eyerman in 1953. The colors are just unbelievable, and you know that in 1953 there was no Photoshop involved.