When the sun hides away and darkness surrounds us, a whole new world is born. A world that is otherwise hidden from us by the glaring rays of our nearest star. But at night, we finally have the chance to appreciate the myriads of tiny little light spots that infiltrate the starry sky to make us realize how small we are and that we are just a very insignificant part of a greater whole of which we have nearly no knowledge and that can hardly be comprehended by a human.
It is at that time of the day that I like flying the most! When the structures of our cities dissolve and only their blood vessels in the form of streets that shine like a pulsating stream of light appear, can I truly appreciate the privilege of being a pilot and getting a view that only very few have. The wonders of our universe can be imagined when looking at the milky way or seeing northern lights and the greatness of natures is becoming obvious. It is not easy to capture all that in a photo – I try to and fail, but sometimes I get it just right… The world at night is a spectacle!
Gazing at the stars at night from an airplane means you get a clear view on everything – there is nearly no pollution in the air anymore and you are mostly flying above the clouds. Imagine you are flying over the oceans and deserts of planet earth and there is no light source other than the far away stars and our moon, illuminating the clouds below… Ready? See below what it looks like from the cockpit!
Aurora borealis – the northern lights
Since ancient times people have described the occurrence of lights in the sky and once you have seen it, you will understand why it is also described as “fire in the sky”. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible now for most of us to see it even when it is strong (e.g. after a coronal mass ejection of the sun), as we are polluting the night with light from our houses and factories, roads and cars. Traveling to secluded worlds of Scandinavia, Greenland or Northern Canada is not an option for the majority of people and therefore the majority of humans will only see the aurora on pictures. My telling of it will not do it justice, which why I let my pictures of it speak for themselves.
Bright city lights
A huge metropolis is just a sea of light from the air and litte do I know about what is going on below me. Yet, the lights tell stories as well, e.g. how a city is designed and if new technology is being used (the white light of new LED lights).
In the cockpit
I can not remember how many nights I spent on board of an aircraft, but it must be hundreds. Our workload is usually quite low during cruise flight and it is especially difficult to stay alert when it is dark outside – your body is made for sleeping at night and not for flying airplanes during these hours. It is the time when we talk or eat and mentally prepare ourselves for every eventuality there might be. I like to imagine what people do down there on earth, while I pass by high above them. You can see oil rigs and factories working at every hour of the day and the coastal waters of the seas are usually filled with many little fishing boats. It means we are not the only ones working and maybe somewhere somebody is looking up into the sky and following our flashing lights before we disappear behind the horizon again.
There is an end to every night and at some point sooner or later, the sun will rise again.
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