When the Night put on a Show

It was September of 2016 and my friends, Megan and Allie, and me went on a weekend trip to  Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to assist my Dad in leading and guiding a group of students throughout the expedition to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising.  The trip in its entirety was a blast and we did a lot of cool things and went to some awesome places, as the three of us help show and guide others around one of our favorite places on the planet.

One night though, stood out from the rest of the trip and worked to be the highlight of a trip filled with good moments.

On the second and final night of the trip the three of us, along with my Dad and some of his students headed out to Miner’s Beach on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to catch some starlight.  Miner’s Beach is a great place to view the stars, because it is very dark skies with no noticeable light pollution and it faces Lake Superior, so the sky gets dark, only for the stars to work together to light it up and show the beauty of the night.

When we got to the parking lot and got out of our cars we quickly looked up to view that the night sky was so alive.  The plain of the Milky Way Galaxy was clearly visible, along with dimmer star clusters you wouldn’t see in city areas, the stars were popping and were everywhere. We then walked along the short path through the trees to the beach and as the trees began to clear and the northern part of the sky became visible we noticed something magical in the night.

The Northern Lights, or an Aurora Borealis, occurs when charged particles from the Sun collide with gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere.  When this happens a stellar sight is put on display as colors of light, most commonly green, dance in the sky in wave like patterns.  It is something that really is magical.  That night in September on Miner’s Beach, the Northern Lights made their appearance in the night sky.

They started off dim when we first got on the beach and became increasingly bright forming more wave like patterns and shooting spikes of light into the sky.  They were beautiful.  Everyone quickly took their spot on the beach to watch, Megan and my Dad rushed to set up their cameras, and I threw down a towel, took out my ukulele and playing it on this beach, at night, under the stars and the Northern Lights was really something special for me.  For at times it was as if the Lights were dancing to the music I was playing.

They continued to brighten as the night moved on reflecting off the water.  Allie and me soon noticed a bright light along the shoreline off in the distance and realized that it was the Northern Lights reflecting off the cliff faces making it glow a vibrant greenish-white color. They flowed and danced for us against a sky full of stars for the entire time we were out there which was almost two hours.  We took some cool images and sat in wonder of them, thanking nature for the show, for it was a sight that makes one say that Heaven must be like this. Below are the pictures taken by my Dad and Megan that night.

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I could have watched them till I fell asleep on the beach that night, but eventually we head to head back to the hotel.  As we climbed the stairs from the beach to the path through the word to the parking lot I turned around to take one last look through the tree line.  For a different perspective and still beautiful view of pine trees, silhouetted by the night, sitting patiently as the Northern Lights continued to dance in a sky full of stars.

– Dustin

 

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