Alan's Message, President Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

Northern Light Shows

A couple of weeks back, while working at Miminiska Lodge, I was fortunate enough to experience the magic of the aurora borealis. There were a few clear nights in a row and I just happened to be making my way from the lodge to a cabin after midnight, following a highly competitive pool tournament, but, that’s another story. I wonder how many of our guests have had the same fortune of being in the right place at the right time to witness these spectacular light shows.

We live in a part of the world with very little light pollution and I have made my share of midnight road trips between Thunder Bay and Armstrong, so I have probably witnessed the Northern Lights on hundreds of occasions. The nights at Mim didn’t seem any different, with the exception that there seemed to be a lot more movement of the light, commonly referred to as the “dancing lights”. The lights formed many different shapes and at one time looked like the outline of an eagle in flight. I know what you’re thinking and there wasn’t much alcohol consumed at the pool tournament, I can assure you that’s not the case….this time.

I am often asked by curious guests “what causes the Northern Lights?”. It is charged particles of the sun that have entered the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gas molecules. The Northern Lights are actually seen in the southern hemisphere as well, so I guess they are Southern Lights down there. The closer you get to the northern and southern poles of the earth the more likely you are to see the spectacular displays of light. The earth’s magnetic field is responsible for deflecting the electrically charged particles from the sun and it is weaker at the poles. The colour of the dancing lights is determined by the type of gas that the charged particles collide with. The light I saw at Mim was green, created by oxygen molecules. There are red coloured Northern Lights, which I don’t recall ever seeing; this is high altitude oxygen. The purple blue light which is fairly common is caused by nitrogen. Due to a large amount of solar flares this year (2013) is apparently one of the best years for northern lights in a decade. For those of you still looking forward to an angling adventure this year, be sure to stay up a bit later on a clear night and you too might experience the northern lights for yourself.

An article in the Canadian Geographic Magazine about the aurora borealis was published a few months ago with an interesting map showing the solar activity centered over the northern pole in an oval shape. Read more about the aurora borealis here. As stated in one of Graham’s previous weather postings and confirmed by the article, Northern Ontario is on the outer edge of the Aurora Oval. We are a long ways from the northern pole, although it may not seem that way for some of our guests after a one or two day drive followed by a flight into the remote wilderness. When put into perspective, the great thing about Northern Ontario is it’s relatively easy to access and still possesses all the same values of pristine wilderness and remoteness that can be found thousands of miles to the far north. It is this ability to access such a unique environment that keeps guests coming back year after year.

Speaking of guests, there is a lot of activity out on the water and elsewhere to share with you this week. Adam recounts the events at Miminiska Lodge that have occurred since opening the lodge with this week’s double header. Krista shares a recipe for walleye cakes that’s sure to fill up hardy anglers. Scott helps put all that stored energy to use with his informative guide on slamming northerns in august. Podcasts return to the WNFR with a great interview with long time guest Mike Peaster, and last but not least, Graham reflects on the wet spring/summer we’ve had and what that means for Lake Superior.

Read on to get all the details,

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