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Goodbye, Alaska!
Aurora Borealis

Hello, Siberia!

If the migration of the earth's magnetic pole remains steady and unimpeded, Alaska and Canada may find themselves without their most sublime landscape spectacle.

Within 50 years, the BBC reports, the magnetic pole may be calling Siberia its new home. “If that happens, Alaska could lose its northern lights, or auroras, which occur when charged particles streaming away from the sun collide with gases in the ionosphere, causing them to glow.” Fortunately for romantics and amateur photographers alike, this may only be a temporary setback as studies have shown this to be part of a normal oscillation and the magnetic pole may return back to North America.

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

Frankly, I'd be more interested if the magnetic poles fluctuate much more wildly, that they can migrate all the way to the equator, with the north pole closer to Illinois or Arizona or even Guatemala. And to discover that they have indeed been circumnavigating the world, with their companion auroras seeding myths and creation stories in every corner of the planet, inspiring countless cultures to build elaborate tumuli, ziggurats and desert walklines that precisely forecast these solar electromagnetic storms.

Thousands of years later, Europeans will unearth long lost Mayan and Egyptian hieroglyphs. When they are deciphered, deep in the steamy jungles and blistering deserts — or maybe by then under a mile of glaciers, they will read, in part: “When the sun collides with gases in the ionosphere.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley is then put to shame.
  • Geoff Manaugh
  • December 14, 2005 at 12:47:00 AM CST
  • Man oh man. Our brainwaves are migrating toward the same pole, Senor Trevi. Someone must've built us both a pole-attracting stadium.

    The synchronicity would be frightening if it weren't so beautiful - just tell me those aren't photographs by Jan Curtis?

  • Alexander Trevi
  • December 14, 2005 at 1:30:00 AM CST
  • I was actually working on a different entry. But as the midnight deadline loomed closer and photoshoping the images down to size were taking longer than expected, I went for the auroras instead.

    And no, those aren't by Jan, though I planned on including 5, rather than 3, images, and the other two were hers.

  • Alexander Trevi
  • September 30, 2010 at 3:46:00 PM CDT
  • And 5 years later, had to replace the images with photos by Jan Curtis.

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