The Alaskan Sky on Fire

The entire universe in blog form
May 10 2014 8:00 AM

The Sky on Fire: “Technicolour Alaska”

aurora
Quantum process writ large, and beautifully. Click to enplanckenate.

Photo by Alexis Coram, used by permission

In February 2014 photographer Alexis Coram went to Alaska with an eye toward—hopefully—catching an aurora.

What she got was magic. And by that, of course, I mean science and beauty. Watch her time-lapse video, “Technicolour Alaska”.

Advertisement

Wow. Hard to believe that’s her first time-lapse video! Her editing was great, matching the music perfectly (the title of the song? “Out of Darkness,” appropriately enough).

The colors (sorry, colours) are breath-taking. Most aurorae are green, and you can sometimes catch some red and even pink and purple if conditions are right. She caught all that, plus the mesmerizing roiling and curling of the lights as the subatomic particles blasted from the Sun shake the Earth’s magnetic field, sliding down them and slamming into our atmosphere.

That’s what causes the glow; the interaction of the tiniest things in nature. When those particles of the solar wind hit our air they excite the atoms there, causing them to glow. The art and beauty of nature is sometimes found at the intersection of the micro- and macrocosmic, of forces subtle and gross. I’m glad we live somewhere in between.

You can see more of Coram's wonderful photographs on her Smugmug and Facebook pages.

Tip o' the lens cap to Jeff Moreau.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?