It’s #ESAAurora!

This is not my usual style of blog post, but I thought I’d have a play and try to capture some of the moments of my latest #SpaceNomad adventure – a trip to Finland for an ESA Space Weather Seminar and a chance to see the northern lights.

Santa Claus Airport

It’s wearing everything that won’t fit in your suitcase. It’s meeting new people in a tractor themed restaurant. It’s snow-closed airports and “wish you were here”s. It’s Norwegian Air and how to pronounce 6,000th.

It’s Santa Claus’s airport and snow glistening like diamonds. It’s clear skies and below zero temperatures. It’s thermals, tog-rated socks, space t-shirts, retro woollen jumpers, wind-proof fleece, body warmer and then struggle to zip up your coat. It’s turning down “the most northerly MacDonald’s” and having burritos instead.


It’s seeing old friends and making new ones. It’s Arktikum and cloud berries, ice-sculpture and Arctic foxes.

A crack in the ice.. eek - don't fall down it!

It’s walking on a frozen river and looking at the cracks. It’s overheating when you get back inside.

It’s cloud berry liqueur and sautéed reindeer. It’s “I’m 26″ and “you can call me Jake”. It’s midnight aurora hunting in Rovaniemi and frozen hair.

SpaceNomad with frozen hair! It’s cold but exciting. It’s first glimpses and shared experience. It’s reindeer for breakfast. It’s Arktikum and architecture. Intricate colourful traditional costumes and Saami shamen. It’s studying the Arctic and finding out where the Arctic circle is. It’s “hooray there’s wifi” and time to tweet. It’s space weather and what causes it. It’s black outs and damaged satellites.

It’s Don Pettit and photography from space. It’s “ooh”, “ahhhh”, “amazing!” and “wow, just wow”. It’s beauty that makes your heart race and leave you speechless. It’s aurora set to “walking in the air”.

It’s the cutting edge of computing and star-mapping. It’s RTs and conversation.

It’s postcards for Christmas and Christmas in March. It’s one foot in and one foot out of the Arctic circle. It’s Santa’s house and let’s go meet him. It’s “how did he know that?” and okay we’ll buy the pictures.

We met Santa

Big dishIt’s grinning until your face hurts and running for lunch in a cafe. It’s reindeer hot-dogs and “I don’t think there is any reindeer in this”.

It’s bus rides and great conversations. It’s Sodankylä and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. It’s space situational awareness including space debris. It’s a 32m satellite dish and the all-sky camera. It’s squeaky snow that lets you know how cold it is. It’s sparkling wine with wooden cup holders and “Eating someone else’s reindeer”. It’s delicious warming soup. It’s wine and coffee and the “let’s go aurora hunting”. It’s the aurora house and a chair for a queen. It’s stories of fox fire and dead ancestors playing football with a walrus skull. It’s the science of space weather and its beautiful results.

Kate and Remco

It’s “time for *all* your layers” and “wow, look at that!”. It’s 25 second exposures and excitement at the results. It’s a helping hand in the snow and “look! look! look!”. It’s a warming fire and very warming drinks. It’s Lappish wooden cups and limited edition space vodka. It’s connecting, friendship and toasting a new space station commander. It’s arcs of aurora and sinking into snow. It’s clear skies and awe. It’s magical, special, humbling and wonderful. It’s feeling alive and being glad to be the SpaceNomad. It’s indescribable, it’s breath-taking, it’s real, it’s “thank you all for being part of this” and “can’t wait until next time.

Northern lights in Finland


Want to learn more about Space Weather and ESA’s Space Surveillance and tracking? Listen to these interviews:

Follow @SpaceKate for more adventures.

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