The clear cold weather we've been having is the perfect time to look for the northern lights. Local photographer Dennis Anderson has been shooting the aurora all over Alaska, but his images from the Homer area are my favorite (find more of his fantastic work at auroradude.com). We get less of the red colors than they see in the far north, but the greens and yellows and blues that wind their way through the sky here perfectly reflect the sea and snow of the landscape below. At the Homer Nutcracker faire this past weekend, my husband and I stopped to chat with him at his booth (see Dennis' response at the end of this post, let's just say he clears up a few things!) and his photographs reminded me of something we had been working on at the bakery.
Stained glass cookies are a beautiful way to dress up cut out sugar cookies. Just smash up any hard candy and sprinkle in the holes of your favorite shape. Bake as usual.
We love these maple butter cookies, so good they'll make you see stars.
(or if your lucky, the northern lights!)
Dennis just sent me a note after reading over my post to correct me on my aurora facts. I have always seen mostly green and yellow lights here and was told by someone long ago that it was because we were so far south and that the lights were related to the cold, but he tells me:
"Even though the auroras are visible more frequently further north, the percentage of colorful shows is lower. we actually get more colorful shows down here. They are still quite rare, but one reason is that the colorful events are related to powerful solar flares.The strong geomagnetic storms resulting from these flares, and there coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, drive the auroras further south so even though we don't get auroras as often, when we do they are more likely to "count". Another reason has to do with the angle of the charged particles entering the atmosphere. Further north the angle is more direct and further south the angle becomes less direct so the the particles end up taking more time to penetrate the thin air. This also contributes to more red emission. Most all of my colorful shots are taken right here on the Kenai rather than further north with very little exception.
Another mis-conception is that the auroras are in some way is related to the cold. In reality, there is no direct relation as auroras occur all year. We just are not able to see them during the brightest summer months but I have seen them from late July to late May from Homer. Clear skies and darkness are all that is required (and a little solar activity). Of course, in the winter clear skies usually mean cold so that is how people come to relate the two."
That's two urban, er, I mean rural, myths debunked for me...thanks, Dennis!
Aurora Update #2
An anonymous commenter left me a link to an interesting site where you can view the northern lights while they are happening! Here it is: The Aurora Max Project.
Thanks to you, Anon...but one question...where did your comment go? First it was there, then it wasn't! Regardless, I appreciate the link, very cool website.