So last night, just as I was thinking of going to bed, Twitter* was all of a-twitter with the news that it would be a good night for viewing the Northern Lights – with reports coming in of sightings as far south as Darlington. Now one of the advantages of living up here – not too far from the Dark Sky Park – is that we don’t get much light pollution on the whole so when the heavens are putting on a show, be it a meteorite shower, a close pass of the ISS or the aurora borealis, we can go outside into pitch darkness and marvel at it happening up there right above our heads, completely concealed from us by approximately half a mile of thick cloud. But last night the skies were, amazingly, clear and as I thought I’d never get the chance again I postponed my bedtime and went out to have a look.
Unfortunately the other amazing thing about living here in the summer are our long summer days which meant that at 11pm there was still way too much light in the sky to see anything at all. Muttering about light pollution I went back in, read for a bit, checked twitter (still all of a-twitter), read a bit more and staggered out again at almost midnight to check again. By this time it was still not quite dark in the sky and I spent some time looking northwards wondering if that faint hint of what-might-be-dusk wasn’t in fact some not very impressive Northern Lights until I finally decided that they could be out there in the heavens dancing the Fandango, for all I cared. I’m a creature of habit, you see, and have a way of turning into a very grumpy pumpkin if I’m kept up beyond my bedtime. And besides I had stuff to do in the morning that I needed to be fresh for. And so I sacrificed the opportunity to be moved and enthralled by this amazing phenomenon in return for my beauty sleep.
All of which made it a perfectly brilliant night for the smoke alarm in our bedroom to announce its desire for a new battery with an ear-splitting burst of sound at 5:30 in the morning. Sigh.
Fortunately there are others more patient than me
* And by ‘Twitter’ I mean the bits of twitter I follow which means that it’s made up of about 80% bikes, 5% writing stuff and the rest vaguely nerdy science-y sort of things involving jokes about statistics. Apparently there are other versions of Twitter that get excited about female celebrities not wearing any makeup. Each to their own, I suppose.