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Northern Lights shine in hillsboro

At 11 p.m. in late February, Doug and Sue Minson parked on a hillside above Fairbanks, Alaska. The temperature was minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit and dropping, but the sight of the night sky lit up by the Northern Lights pulled them from their car.

“We were up there for three days and the first two were overcast,” Doug Minson said. “But on our last night we drove up to the crest overlooking the far side of the hill and my wife got out of the car. She was speechless. Finally she turned to me and said, ‘Get out of the car. You have to see this.’”by: COURTESY PHOTO - Doug and Sue Minson relate their far-flung adventures through stories and photos of Alaskas colorful Northern Lights and more.

For the next two hours the Minsons shot photographs of Northern Lights that filled the entire sky, both horizontally and vertically.

Even more astonishing was the light display’s rating from the University of Alaska’s Northern Lights research station, which measures the lights on a scale of 1 to 9. In spite of the Minsons’ awe at the sky show, the lights that night were rated only a 2.

“You can see them all the way to Mexico when they get to a 9,” said Minson, who remembers a night from his childhood that may well have been a 9.

“When I was 10 or so in the mid-1950s, we saw them here in Portland,” he said. “The city has grown since then and the ambient light makes it more difficult to see them. You have to get to a dark place to see them clearly.”

Since then, seeing the Northern Lights has been high on what Minson and his wife call their “God Bucket List.”

They’ve traveled to Indonesia and to the base camp at Mount Everest. They’ve seen the sun come up over Bryce Canyon. Along the way, they’ve had some incidental fun, too. While they were in Alaska, they visited an ice-sculpting competition during the day.

“A friend of ours suggested we go and that alone was worth the trip,” Minson said. “There was lots of mythical stuff, but the thing I remember was a log cabin done in incredible detail. There were nearly 200 sculptures made by people all over the world.”

The couple will share many of their fascinating adventures and photography in Hillsboro Friday afternoon.



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  • 22 Nov 2014

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