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Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  97 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The beautiful aurorae, or northern lights, are the stuff of legends. The ancient stories of the Sami people warn that if you mock the lights they will seize you, and their mythical appeal continues to capture the hearts and imagination of people across the globe.

Aurora explores the visual beauty, ancient myths and science of the northern lights and challenges the popular t
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 25th 2016 by William Collins
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May 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2019
I don’t have a bucket list, (do have a bucket though), but one day I want to see the amazing natural phenomena that is the aurorae borealis. The haunting beautiful lights that hang in the skies of the northern hemisphere also have their south equivalent, the aurora australis. They have been known to humanity for millennia and have been a sense of wonder and inspired stories and myths of their creation. However, it is only in the past few decades that we have become to understand how they are cre ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Part science read, part travelogue (although definitely heavier on the science side of things), Aurora covers quite comprehensively everything you wanted to know about the subject. The author (who is herself a physicist specialising in the subject) examines multiple aspects of the phenomenon, including its role in history and art, as well as getting to grips with the technical question of how it all works. I think it was well explained, speaking as one of those people who is enthused by space sc
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a blend of travelogue, scientific explanation and cultural and scientific history. It is most successful at the travelogue and least successful at the scientific explanation. The author unfortunately suffers from the "Curse of Knowedge" at times whereby understanding gained over many years of hard study becomes second-nature and one forgets that even the basics are unfamilar to most people - even most well educated people. This makes some of the attempts to explain the origins of the aur ...more
An interesting mix between travelogue, history lesson and scientific explanation. I enjoyed the historical parts the most because I found it fascinating to find out about the beginnings of auroral research and the explorers who were enthralled by the lights. The scientific explanations were complex, but the author tried to make them understandable for non-physicists like myself. I feel like I got most of it even though some details may have escaped my understanding. I found the explanations rega ...more
This is a good book.

It took me a long time to read it even though the topic interested me. I found it great at the beginning and really had me hooked. But being someone who doesn't read much non fiction that are dense in sciences, my head needed time to wrap myself around it.
I really enjoyed following Melanie when she was trying to see the aurora on different places, like Sweden, Scotland, Canada and Svalbard. But this books goes into more than just the aurora, which was good most of the time, b
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fascinated by the mysterious shape-shifting of the Northern Lights which intrigued both local communities and explorers long before they had an inkling of the scientific causes, plasma physicist Melanie Windridge set out to write a popular science-cum-travelogue to explain the phenomenon, visiting Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada and Scotland in the process.

The author makes comparisons to twanging elastic bands, strings of pearls or games of cricket to make theories easier to grasp. There is also
Katheryn Thompson
I read Aurora while on a two-week cruise around Iceland, Norway, and Scotland, and it made for perfect holiday reading; it was about a journey, and in the same part of the world as I was exploring (although, obviously, I didn't see the Northern Lights since I visited in the summer), and it was just the right amount of challenging (I often prefer reading non-fiction books on holiday).

This book is a wonderful mix of autobiography, science, and travel, and the structuring of the book around Windrid
Bill Leach
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Windbridge describes her journeys through various countries in search of the aurora, using her travels as a lead-in to much information on it. An excellent read with good balance between the travelogue and the science.

Her travels in Sweden and Norway provide an introduction to life in the cold north, including the use of skis, dog sleds and snowmobiles. The tales and views of the aurora held by the indigenous people were often those of fear. Due to it's proximity to the aurora, Norway was the ce
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I am obsessed with Nordic countries, Winter, and the Northern Lights. I recently travelled to Iceland but in May, where I had a slim chance of seeing the Aurora. The next best thing was Perlan, who provide a magical planetarium experience which explain the science and mystery behind the Aurora and her sisters in the universe.

I wanted to read this book for these reasons and to discover Melanie’s journey across the Arctic Circle in search of the lights. I really loved the travelogue parts, which
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I began this charming book on a trip to see the 2017 solar eclipse over the United States. I met the author at a winery where we witnessed the event. She is delightful and well-versed in the mechanics of the aurora, and as I have long had seeing the Northern Lights on my bucket list, I was pleased to have the book from her. The book blends personal experience with the science of aurorae, and I found it easy to read and understand. Some of her experiences in “hunting or chasing” aurora are amazin ...more
Matt Heavner
Good read, but I felt that the narrative was too dilute. The book covers everything from the aurora (obviously!) to love of adventure and the Arctic, Arctic culture and challenges, climate change, basic physics, spectroscopy, plasma physics and beer/hops (and more). Good, but it didn't quite tie together enough. In some ways this felt a bit like a Bill Bryson book, but not at the same humorous insight level. ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I read some of the reviews of the book first, and am glad I didn't listen. I thought the book was very informative from a scientific perspective, and found out what I wanted to know about how and why auroras exist. The book also includes inspiring philosophical notions and cultural references about how civilizations have understood auroras throughout the ages.
Olwyn Ducker
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I dont profess to understand half of what was wsritten in this very well presented book. True tales with lovely photographs. dr Melanie Windridges tale of her quest to see the Northern lights. well written and presented, a good read.
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Although the Northern Lights is a subject that I am interested in, sadly, I realize that I'm just not really interested in the scientific part of it. I hope that one day, I will re-read again and hopefully, I will have an different opinion about it. ...more
Eric George
Jul 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
At times interesting and insightful. Maybe a bit switching in between topics and jumping right into complex explanations. Maybe unfullfiled a little bit by all the unknown factors and the challenge to explain a complex matter in a comprehensive way.
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-own
I found this book very interesting, even though I didn't understand half of it. There were things I've never thought of before, like how space weather affects satellites, power grids, and everyday life. I really recommend this book if you have any interest in the aurorae. ...more
Leilani Aylward
This was a well-written book - if you like science. For me it was too heavy on the physics, I enjoyed the short sections on the history of the aurora, mais I skimmed over much of this book.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not bad but there is far too much travelogue and not enough science. The travel writing is OK but should really be in a separate book.
Alicia Pearson
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Faintly interesting but it didn't really hold my interest as much as I was hoping. ...more
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Banff Mountain Book Festival entry.
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Dr Melanie Windridge is a plasma physicist, speaker, writer… with a taste for adventure. She has a PhD in fusion energy from Imperial College London and is Communications Consultant for fusion start-up Tokamak Energy. She also works in education with the Ogden Trust, Anturus and Your Life. Melanie loves the mountains and believes science and exploration go hand in hand.

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