Bringing Together Art, Science, and Education Using the Aurora Borealis



 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Around 69°N in the chilly, dark of winter, three colleagues are racing down the road in a micro-Yaris in search of clear skies. They are the self-funded Trosmo team, venturing from their base in Trosmo, Norway, to photograph and blog about the ethereal aurora borealis.


The blog featuring the trip is called Northern Lights—Trosmo 2014, and it is housed on the site ArtSciencEduation, managed by Dr. Cherilynn Morrow, a Ph.D. in solar physics who later branched into science education.


The quest to document the adventure of seeking the aurora borealis began in 2013 when Morrow teamed up with Duke Johnson of the Salt Lake City Clark Planetarium and Will Stoll, a high school physics teacher pursuing a Ph.D. in education.


 Driving toward Dåfjord. Image Credit Duke Johnson, and Will Stoll, Cherilynn Morrow.

Driving toward Dåfjord. Image Credit Duke Johnson, and Will Stoll, Cherilynn Morrow.



Together they formed an expedition to Yellowknife, Canada. The purpose of the trip was to create a photo record of the Northern Lights for use by planetariums and schools. As an addition, Morrow blogged about the experience so that that any interested members of the public could follow along in near-real time. The mission was such a success that the team reunited in February for a second expedition, this time to Trosmo, Norway.


The blog offers beautiful images of the Northern Lights and joyous descriptions of the landscapes in Norway. Intertwined with the stories and descriptions is scientific information about the aurora borealis, such the magnetic fields that cause the light shows and where they occur.


The blog also provides anecdotes that reveal the human (and artistic) side of science. Morrow humorously recounts situations such as being stuck at a stoplight at 1a.m., uncertain of their location with no other cars in sight. The night was redeemed from disappointment later when they were treated to a dazzling display in the sky.


Other insights into the daily odds and ends of an educational expedition include: hauling gear, stuffing loads of stands and cameras and winter coats plus three researchers into the limited space of a car, and the cozies needed to keep equipment from freezing.


The Trosmo expedition began Feb. 26 and ends March 13. To read the blogs or find out more about the expedition, see ArtSciencEducation.


Previous Earthzine articles about the aurora borealis include:



SWARM: ESA’s Magnetic Field Mission
What Does a Solar Magnetic Storm Mean for Earth?
Big Years for the Heliosphere.



 


Butterfly. Image Credit: Duke Johnson, Cherilynn Morrow, and Will Stoll

Butterfly. Image Credit: Duke Johnson, Cherilynn Morrow, and Will Stoll


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