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One Minute and Twenty Seconds of Stupefying Wonder
One evening my family was returning from a dinner out, just as the sky got dark. When my two-year-old asked why the sun was setting, I opened my mouth to deliver my standard response ("Because it's bedtime") when my husband said, "Well actually it's because the Earth is a sphere, you see," and went on to rather cogently explain the rotation of the Earth and its interactions with the Sun. She finally cut him off, frustrated: "No, Daddy! It's just a regular day!"
I know what she means. Even I (so old and so wise) find it difficult to reconcile the extraordinary world we live in, full of mysterious phenomena like magnetic poles and solar flares and wireless internet, with the ordinary version of it that I inhabit. I mean, not to be a total philistine or anything but... gets dark because it's bedtime. Right?
Thank goodness for astronauts like Clayton Anderson, who tweeted this astounding time lapse video of the Aurora Borealis as seen from the International Space Station.
The uncomprehending child in me watches this video again and again and thinks, Wow! Gee! The world is so pretty and magical! And then the adult version of me takes a moment to check out the excellent video created by Norwegian filmmaker Per Byhring and the Physics Department at the University of Oslo, which actually explains how the Aurora Borealis works.
And so as it turns out, even on just a normal day, unthinkable, complex, and fascinating things are happening all around us.
(For even more celestial beauty, spend the next 12 hours or so gazing at the Aurora Sky Station's live cam. Seriously, it's hard to stop.)
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