Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

At the time this story is published, it is the day of the Earth Hour. People turning of the light and electricity for an hour to supposedly safe t̶h̶e̶m̶s̶e̶l̶v̶e̶s̶ the earth because the earth really needs our help to be able to survive. And in that moment, we realize there is more to see in the sky.

Not many place of the Earth is graced by the presence of beautiful nightly phenomenon called Aurora. It is this light thingy that floating above the sky in places located near either the North or South Pole. It is called Aurora Borealis in the north and Aurora Australis in the south. Colors may vary from bluish to greenish and sometimes even yellow or pink.

Like many strange things, people have theories and opinions. Many ancient civilizations had their own opinions regarding this Polar Lights. The Nordics, where Aurora is commonly observed, their mythology says that Aurora is the Bifrost Bridge, through which fallen warriors are led through Valhalla for their final rest. Heimdall?

On the other hand, the Romans think the Aurora is the Goddess of Dawn, while the Greeks believe she is the sibling of Sun and Moon. Either those, or she really is the Sleeping Beauty.

Behind all of this gorgeous facade, hidden some rather inconvenient fact that Earth is under the bombardment of solar wind. The Sun is basically a giant ball of hot gas. Every once in a while, it kinda pops and throwing a blast of ionic particles, some of it reaches our Earth. It interacts with Earth’s magnetic field and atmospheric gas and light up the sky, same principles applied in our neon lights.

Aurora is like the best among the worst kind of situation. The worst of the worst? Geomagnetic Storm. It was the year of 1989 when Quebec Blackout happened. The Sun released a massive solar flare that disturbed the Earth’s ionosphere and in turns, caused a disturbance in the electrical current. It caused a long power blackout. Probably, the only great thing about this event, it caused the biggest and most beautiful aurora.

Even about 20 years ago, the solar flare caused that big of a deal. If it happens right now, who knows how catastrophic since practically everything is connected to the electrical power grid.

Aurora is not the only cool kid in the sky. Meet the sister, Polar Stratospheric Cloud, also known as Nacreous Cloud.

Nacreous Cloud by Albert de Nijs

Nacreous cloud, literally means Mother of Pearl, is a special cloud that is formed only on the southern pole region due to certain atmospheric condition namely the Polar Jet Stream. In a nutshell, Nacreous Cloud is made of certain gases that create a chain reaction to convert Ozone into Oxygen. And what do we do with Oxygen? Right, we inhale it, thus, depleting the ozone layer and then creating the so called Ozone Hole.

Why is that matter? Because we need a certain amount of ozone to be able to absorb the ultraviolet from the Sun to render it useful. Too much of that will be dangerous to our skin and worsen the effect of the infamous global warming.

So the two of the most beautiful sights in the sky is ironically the sign that bad things was or is currently happening.

Well, you know what they say, beauty is pain.

here to empty my cup