The night sky is our connection to the past, present, and future. Time and space are stretched beyond comprehension when looking overhead on a clear dark night in a dark sky location and considering the distances and the time the light has traveled to reach us, some light traveling since near the very beginnings of the Universe. The dancing, pulsing, and multitudes of color variations of aurora adds a whole new dynamic present dimension to this.
During a visit to our central Minnesota lake cabin on May 7, 2016, a lucky occurrence of strong aurora along with clear skies and no moon present gave way to an awesome aurora display. This video compilation of photos and time lapse scenes show the progression of the northern lights activity from about 11:30 pm on May 7 to sunrise on May 8. At its peak, as shown in the video, the northern lights could be seen strongly overhead and towards the south, a relatively rare occurrence in Minnesota.
Whenever I spend a full night under the stars, especially witnessing an aurora display like this, it is impossible not to be filled with awe from the scenes and the sense of our smallness within the Universe. My mind wanders great distances, from the present moment to the future, and also to the past, to those that witnessed similar scenes in this same location hundreds and thousands of years ago.
We now understand the science of aurora and and continue learn more about the vastness of our solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and the Universe. Native Americans had other interpretations of aurora, such as spirits of animals in the sky, spirits of departed loved ones ascending into the skies, and other interpretations which made sense within their spiritual framework. In the scenes shown here, with imagination, evolving figures of animals such as bear, buffalo, horses, loons, birds in flight, etc., can be imagined appearing, moving and fading away within the aurora. It is hard not to feel a spiritual connection experiencing scenes such as this as it surrounds you overhead in the vast skies.
Fragments of Native American artifacts have been found in the soil near the cabin, so those prior inhabitants’ past presence in that location is certain. Our viewing of aurora like this is a strong connection to their past realities. Even with our hectic and constant information bombardment through media and advancing high technology, I’m certain we experience the same deep level of wonder, and a profound sense of peace, and a sense of place under these same skies.
The music to accompany this video is by the talented Dan Schwartz (danschwartz.net). The Native American flute music selection here is a tribute to the past Native American inhabitants of the area. The electronic nature is a tribute to the present. The loon sounds in the music were recorded that night as the aurora danced overhead. The resident breeding loon pair on the lake through the summer joined in with the aurora show, calling vigorously throughout the night.