Seeing the Aurora

“We’re so small, aren’t we?” my friends said as we were laying on the ship’s top deck, staring at the shimmering sky. Nights like these are why we do what we do – why we volunteer to leave our homes, families, boyfriends, spouses and dogs for anything between four and eight months and then work ten hours per day for seven days a week. This is why we became nomads in the first place. To witness something like the Aurora Australis.

Three of us spent about an hour running from portside to starboard side in winds of over 40 knots strong, exclaiming every time that one of the green light beams moved.

“It’s so beautiful!”

“This is just so spiritual”

“Isn’t it amazing?”

“I can’t believe we get paid to see this.”

“This makes all the admin and drama worth it.”

It does. In that hour, I forgot about every meeting, every stressful encounter with a manager, challenging conversations with the friends I supervise, the tears I sometimes cry when I’m alone in my cabin, because I feel like I’ve just lost all of my strength. All I could see is how breathtakingly beautiful and magnificent the universe is.

I hate when people say that the stars or the light “danced,” because it is such a cliché. But this time, I noticed, it was true. White beams of light were creating tracks reaching from the eastern to the western horizon. And every single time that you turn your head away, it changed. Now there is three beams, in four seconds, there will be five. Now it’s a group of thin strokes of light, ten seconds later, it’s one big band covering the heaven.

And the color… pastel shades of green was filling the sky, making the millions of little stars shine even brighter.

Seeing the Aurora Australis for the first time was a moment that I will hold on to for the rest of my life. I’ve always dreamt of seeing the Aurora. A year and a half ago, my friends saw the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) days before I joined them in Iceland. It made me want to see it so much more on this trip to Antarctica, but everyone kept telling me that you only see it in the winter (obviously, since the summers have 24 hours of daylight down there). I guess all of us forgot of the “return of the night” on our way back north. And then, when we least expected it, there it was, dancing and flashing green tones in all its majesty: the southern lights.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the photo settings or the photography skills to truly capture what I saw that evening… Though the featured image in this article is an accurate depiction of what we saw, we were at sea and so our images looked much different. Below is the photograph that I’ve been using to show my parents how beautiful this experience was.


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