Having gone to bed by 8.15m on Friday night, I was up again at 11.50pm! I’d had a good rest and was still dozy when Bob brought me a cup of tea around 10.30pm. He mentioned that ‘there is a strong likelihood of the Northern Lights being visible over North Leicestershire around midnight tonight’ [according to the Internet, which as we know, never lies!] Instantly I was wide awake! Seeing the Aurora Borealis is something I have always wanted to do.
Reports in The Guardian explained recent solar activity meant that conditions were right. “The current spate of displays have been sparked by a gigantic solar eruption, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), that collided with our atmosphere on Friday morning at around 1am. Observers in Canada and the northern states of the USA saw mild auroras as a result. A second ejection [was] due on Friday afternoon and could increase the likelihood of the lights appearing over the UK [Friday] night. The stronger the compression of Earth’s magnetic field the further south the aurora will be seen, and the more active the display.” The article went on to explain you needed to be in a position to have a clear view of the northern horizon.
At 11.45pm, Bob was showing me pictures on his Smartphone of the Aurora – clearly visible over Norfolk! Do I wait seven years until retirement, and hope they show up over Cornerstones when I am living there full-time? Nope- we got up, dressed, and drove out to a high spot about 10 miles north of here. Did we see anything? Sadly, no glorious lighting up of the night sky this time – unless you count the light pollution caused by the city of Leicester, the town of Coalville, and all the illumination up the M1. We did see some stars twinkling and a bright moon. Never mind. Another time maybe… But as Bob drove back, I found myself humming a very old evening hymn about the Light of the World. These pictures are ones which were published yesterday – showing the night skies over Norfolk.
Sun of my soul, Thou Saviour dear,
It is not night if Thou be near;
O may no earthborn cloud arise
To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.
Come near and bless us when we wake,
Ere through the world our way we take,
Till in the ocean of Thy love
We lose ourselves in Heaven above.
Maybe we were mad to drive out into the Leicester countryside at midnight – but I am glad we did. A crazy unscheduled activity like this can bring so much joy – and definitely counts as Quality Time.