As our country’s most northern and eastern state, Maine provides excellent chances of seeing the Northern Lights, especially since it’s heavily forested with very low levels of light pollution. The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is an International Dark Sky Sanctuary—Mount Katahdin being an impressive mountain in Baxter State Park, the tallest in the state—and throughout Maine, stargazing events take place to celebrate the “Northern Lights enthusiast’s paradise,” according to the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
So many of us crave to see the Northern Lights that we’re willing to book a vacation to be closer to the north where they can be seen. The phenomenon, also called Aurora Borealis, is where dramatic ribbons of lime, rose and other colors can be seen moiling in the sky, rewarding us with a sense of awe and a closeness to the beauty of our universe. The experience can be moving and leave us with a sense of gratitude for our complex universe.
Also, have you met STEVE? He’s an atmospheric optical phenomenon, and his name is an acronym for “strong thermal emission velocity enhancement.” That means he is a purple and green light stripe or arc in the sky—what a life—named in 2016 by folks in Alberta, Canada, enjoying his lovely light. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland is studying the phenomenon using the fun acronym.
Now, brace yourself: the Northern Lights may appear less dramatic in real life than in photographs because cameras have more photoreceptors than our eyes—don’t be surprised if you see something more gray than neon. But many people feel that seeing them, even if they aren’t as brilliant as in a photograph, is impossible to describe or match. Just another drop in the bucket list! Make sure to check each destination for weather conditions and timing to give yourself the best chance of seeing them.
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