The stars and the moonlight light up everything around you. Your eyes are used to the darkness now. The sun never rises above the horizon. The sky is a stage for the main performance everyone’s here to see. Blasts of green, purple, red and blue above you. The Northern Lights are out tonight. The atmosphere in the city of Longyearbyen is unique. Many are inside, by the fireplace. Life is a little bit slower this time of year. And that’s okay.
The starry sky unveils itself. You turn off your snowmobile, adjust to the dark. The northern lights are colouring the mountains and valleys green, blue, yellow. Then they disappear. It’s dark again. Then a new explosion – to the north! Purple lightning shoots across the sky and lands to the south. But now, the light is blue. It’s a magic symphonic ballet without a single sound.
Up and down. You feel the terrain as the dogs are running. A movement of light in the sky grabs your attention. You can barely see it. It’s faint. Like a distant memory. But it grows, soon intense and vibrant. It’s powerful, hypnotic, impossible to ignore. Wonder if the dogs see the lights too. The quiet is loud as you see the see the magic from the lights high above.
The fireplace is roaring. The wind outside is howling. A hot plate of reindeer stew is served. The Camp Barentz guide is talking about the explorers who discovered Spitsbergen in 1596. For a moment, you’ve travelled back in time. Back to a time when Svalbard was undiscovered. There are whispers around the table. Someone was just outside. The whispers grow with excitement: They’re here. The Northern Lights!
It’s dark. You’re outside. Everything is quiet. You see a huge satellite dish and antennas adorning the mountaintop. Equipment. Technology to monitor the aurora borealis – the northern lights. Chances are good that you will see one tonight, the guide says. You look up. Nothing. But then, a ghostly movement of light in the sky. Here it comes.