It was supposed to be a spectacular sight: the Aurora borealis putting on a show right in our backyard.
Well, in my case last night it was by the Herron Island Ferry landing.
I pulled in the parking lot of the ferry landing just after 11 p.m. I was pleasantly surprised to see a handful of people already staked out a spot on the sandy beach, facing due north. A few more pulled in just before midnight, the optimum time to view the light show.
This is a rare occurrence that was ignited by an “Earth-directed solar flare,” according to accuweather.com. The lights could be seen as far south as Maryland in the east and down over Nebraska in the west.
According to the weather web site, this event was “a coronal mass ejection, or a cloud of charged particles released from solar activity,” that reached the Earth’s atmosphere around midday Friday.
Alas, it wasn’t much of a show.
Strips of wispy white streaks crossed the northern sky, obscured a bit by the glow of a retreating moon.
There was not much wind to speak of, and the temperature was a balmy 59 degrees. A good night to be out on the beach.
“Did you see it?” asked a stargazer as he threw his folding chair in the trunk of his blue sedan, ready to get home.
“That may be a piece of it,” I said, pointing to the streaks in the night sky.
“Yeah, that must be it,” he mumbled in response before driving away.