ImageOne of the most wondrous sights in the night sky is the aurora boreal us. Like a shimmering velvet curtain, it shifts and moves as if blown by a gentle breeze. Scientists explain that what we are seeing is solar particles falling into the planet’s atmosphere and exciting atoms to fluoresce. Though I believe that explanation, the poetic side of me imagines velvet curtains moved by heavenly breezes.

I had never heard of this phenomenon  until I was thirteen years old. From the descriptions I had heard from my teachers, I thought it would look like a psychedelic light show. Not until a cool October night in 1970 did I actually see the real thing.

My radio seemed strangely unable to pick up distant stations that evening. As I tuned the dial, my sister Diane came into the living room from outside and urged, “Come look at this aurora, Bruce.”

I felt a sense of awe as I stared up at the spectacle of the greenish curtain. Its movements mesmerized me. Then it changed from green to purple.

I ran into the house and shouted, “Hey Mom, you’ve got to see this. The aurora turned purple.”

“You’re just seeing things,” she replied. “Your eyes haven’t adjusted from being indoors.”

I begged her to come out but she refused. Shrugging, I ran outside. The Aurora had turned green again while I had gone indoors. Though I felt cold, I continued watching the spectacle until it began to fade.

Even today, I enjoy watching the northern lights. In fact, I don’t even have to see them to know that they’re there. Just listening to the AM radio tells me whenever they make their appearance.

I wrote about other sublime experiences throughout my two previous books. Check them out on the Bruce Atchison’s books link of my Blogspot page.


Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.


  1. I’ve never seen an aurora as spectacular as what pictures show. Living in the middle of Missouri, it’s rare to see them at all. We did see faint colors in the sky a few years ago with heightened solar activity. And, yes, auroral radio reception is always interesting. Here, stations from the southern U.S. and Cuba come in quite well at such times.

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