I had an amazing night last night. Around midnight, my best friend and I went to grab tea and stargaze, me with my camera in hand in the hopes of getting some good photos of the Milky Way while there was a clear sky. Upon reaching Tim Horton’s, I looked up to see a really bright shooting star, brighter than the usual ones. Only a few seconds later, I glances across the valley and noticed a small patch of green light over the far eastern mountains. That was enough to get me excited. But what really got me was that by the time we had our tea in hand and were on our way out of the parking lot, the lights were brighter.
The sky was clear, clearer than it had been for maybe a couple of weeks, and it was finally dark enough to see the stars again. That’s one thing I’m not sure people really think about when they heard about the north. Our summers are sunny, and the sun only dips below the horizon for a few hours a night. That means we barely see the stars for a few months. This may not seem like a huge deal for those of you living in cities where you don’t see a lot of the stars, anyway, due to light pollution, but it’s quite drastic here. Our light pollution is low enough that we can still see the stars on a clear night.
All of this for me means that when September comes, and the days grow shorter again, I can finally see the stars again. I grew up stargazing whenever possible, and I can quite literally spend hours staring up at the night sky. That is made even better on occasion when we get the northern lights as well. If you’ve never experienced the aurora, it’s something I would recommend to anyone. It’s a truly magical experience, and the sky comes alive and dances for you, with explosions of colour moving in ribbons overhead. They can be seen any time of the year, but are definitely easier to see during the winter due to our long summer days. This generally means suffering through the cold weather and snow to get photos of the lights unless they come out earlier in the year before the weather turns and winter comes.
We left Tim Horton’s and hit the highway, heading north of Whitehorse and driving for about 40 minutes to a big open gravel pit overlooking the valley in which Lake Laberge lies and the mountains beyond. The lights grew brighter the longer we drove, and when we got to where we were headed, there were strips of pink lining the wide green ribbons overhead. The stars were brighter than I’ve seen them in months, the sky clear of any clouds, and as I set up my camera and tripod to begin taking photos, I was lucky enough to have my camera already pointing in the direction of the rising moon, which came up as a bright orange crescent over the eastern mountains, illuminating the landscape in its glow and only adding to the light show in the sky above.
We watched the sky for over an hour as the temperature dropped to below zero and our fingers got colder. Everything came together in such a perfect way for me last night, and in only a moment, I managed to capture the star belt, the aurora, the moon, the landscape of my home, and a shooting star all in one photo.
Shooting stars have always been special to me, really just the stars in general, and after last night, I feel much more energized than I have been in weeks. Maybe this is why I always get more done this time of year… I can finally enjoy the stars again, and with my love of the fall colours and the crisper, colder air, I just feel more alive. Even now, I realize I’ve been rambling for over 600 words, and for weeks it’s been hard to even write 200 at a time. I’m going to take that bright shooting star as a sign for me and dive back into my work. Everything feels better today, like a new beginning. Like some unknown weight has been lifted from me, and I can finally breathe again.
**If you are interested in seeing the photo I’m talking about, as well as see some of the others that I took last night, click here. There are plenty of random photos of the northern landscapes there.**