A tour of vibrant skies of the north

A review of 'The Northern Lights: Celestial Performances of the Aurora Borealis,' by Daryl Pederson and Calvin Hall.

  • A corona aurora explodes above the Chugach Mountains.

    Daryl Pederson and Calvin Hall
  • An aurora, seen from Old Glenn Highway south of Palmer, Alaska, fills the sky.

    Daryl Pederson and Calvin Hall
  • The moonlight and aurora illuminate the Matanuska Glacier.

    Daryl Pederson and Calvin Hall
  • Celebrating the northern light's dusk-until-dawn performance.

    Daryl Pederson and Calvin Hall
 

The vibrantly colored photographs of Daryl Pederson and Calvin Hall give the reader an impressive tour of Alaska’s northernmost skies in The Northern Lights: Celestial Performances of the Aurora Borealis. Writer Ned Rozell’s introductory essay takes a brief look at some of the science behind the phenomena: “The sun continually spews a solar wind,” he explains, and eventually “that breath flows over marble Earth like a stream curls around a rock.” Rozell touches on the reasons behind the aurora’s various colors — the great red aurora, for instance, is caused by solar flares — and is particularly intrigued by reports of a strange hissing and humming heard during the displays. Photographers Pederson and Hall clearly know the thrill of discovery that kept turn-of-the-century miners “hacking at frozen gravel through the dark winter,” and their extraordinary images reveal that Alaska’s skies are as boundless and beautiful as its harsh and lonely landscapes.

The Northern Lights: Celestial Performances of the Aurora Borealis
By Daryl Pederson and Calvin Hall; essay by Ned Rozell
123 pages
paperback: $19.95.
Sasquatch Books, 2015.