The Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights, is one of the most spectacular sights that nature bestows upon us earth dwellers. The lights are formed from collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere generating heat, which is released as these hues. The lights generally extend from 50 miles to as high as 400 miles above the Lithosphere. The lights have, due to their eerie nature and prominent positioning in the sky, possessed many symbolic meanings from different cultures: Romans believed that they were harbingers of ill-tidings, such as war or famine, while the Inuits of Alaska believed that the lights were the spirits of hunted animals.
The Lights are generally seen in the northern and southern hemispheres over the poles. Areas free from pollution with a thin atmospheric layer are the best places to observe them. Locations in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Iceland are excellent hosts to these magnificent lights, and, as I was to learn for myself, they are not the only locations where you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them.

Photo credit: https://oceanwide-expeditions.com/to-do/experiences/aurora-borealis-northern-light


As I returned from my lectures, walking through the city over the Emajogi river, the backdrop that adorned the bridge was truly eye-catching. Spanning the horizon before I was an aberrant yet beautiful expanse of light in the sky, radiating a soft glow all over the scenery with patches of green, lighting up the night.

The thought of an artist setting up his tools to draw the landscape or a nature-inspired photographer taking wide angles of the view filled my mind: how else could one react to such a magnificent sight? The radiance that glowed over the cityscape was mesmerizing, and it was awe-inspiring to see nature marking the sky over the City of Good Thoughts. The intensity increased as dusk broke and the eerie lights filled the night sky with hues of green and yellow, casting brilliant lights all over the cityscape.

It did not take long for my excitement to rise as realization dawned upon me; a similar image that I had seen in my early days while exploring the mysteries, the vast expanse of space held for us. A walk down memory lane flipped me back to the illuminated sky that I had yearned to see as a child. As a space enthusiast driven by the conundrums of nature, the occurrence of Northern Lights in pictures and references, a truly spectacular sight even within the those framed pictures,  motivated me to take a trip someday and personally experience the natural occurrence.

And here I was standing truly amazed at the sight before me, for I was actually witnessing the Northern Lights in the skies over Tartu. Stretching across the sky, above the city skyline, the blazing lights glowed with ecstasy, filling the ordinarily darkened skies with the wondrous display of nature’s majesty.

The sight kept me infatuated for a while mesmerized, under the influence of the aura of the aurora. Nevertheless, with a smile on my face and an enlightened soul, witnessing yet another beautiful autumn night in Tartu, I proceeded back to my dormitory with a new sense of appreciation for the natural beauty of our world.


That’s the beauty of nature; it beckons us to its most beautiful sights unexpectedly. All we can do, as contrary as it might sound, is be prepared for that which cannot be prepared for and be willing to succumb to the enigma that it holds. The sights of nature are usually accompanied by the serenity associated with receiving a reminder of the true purpose of life. Pulling us out of our artificial constructs, nature brings us face front with the reality of existence. It ultimately is another reminder to preserve that which nurtures and intrigues us, to protect the fragile and wondrous beauty of our world as we seek to grow and develop an intelligent species.