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Book celebrates Yellowknife experience
Bill Braden's book AURORA UP! is the result of lifelong passion for shooting Aurora

Robin Grant
Northern News Services
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Aurora Borealis has awed civilizations for ages. It features prominently in Roman and Greek mythology, and almost every Northern culture has a legend or interesting story to explain the phenomenon.

NNSL photograph

Bill Braden's new book AURORA UP! explores the mythology and science of the aurora, with a compact history of Yellowknife. Here, the aurora dance over the city.- photo courtesy of Bill Braden

Now, photographer Bill Braden has taken a stab at telling the story of Yellowknife's Northern lights in his new book AURORA UP!.

"I set out to tell more than just the story of Yellowknife's spectacular aurora viewing," he said.

"We're incredibly colourful diverse, kinda quirky city, and as locals, we love to brag about ourselves.

"And tourists are just as curious and surprised with Yellowknife as the aurora."

The book explores the mythology and science of the aurora, with a compact history of Yellowknife. It describes a range of activities and events during the fall, winter and early spring aurora seasons.

For those with itchy shutter fingers the book contains a comprehensive section on how to take technically precise photos of the dancing lights.

The book also addresses the debate over whether the aurora is audible, concluding that science says it is not, although some people would like to believe they can hear it.

"There's just no way that noise can travel from that high up, through that kind of atmosphere," Braden said - which is 60 to 400 kilometres or more above the Earth, according to the book.

Braden, a former reporter and Yellowknife MLA, now works as a freelance writer and photographer and guides aurora visits for My Backyard Tours, a Yellowknife tour company.

He said the growth of the aurora market in Yellowknife made the book a viable venture that combined both his passion for photographing the lights and love of the city.

"I've been in and around the tourism industry for a lot of years, I believe very much in it," he said. "With the growth and numbers of people that are coming, it just seemed to become more viable to support a book. We've really got a growth now that the Chinese have entered the market in a big way."

Braden has lived in Yellowknife and Whitehorse since 1964. He started taking photos of the aurora when he was 15.

"It truly is an astonishing gift that Yellowknife happens to be in that sweet spot where the sun's energy and the Earth's magnetic field - we're right there," he said. "Even when solar activity is low we're still going to capture it here. The probability of seeing the aurora out of three nights is more than 95 per cent."

Braden is the author of two other books: On Good Ice, the story of the famous ice road to the diamond mines, and Bridging the Deh Cho, on the evolution of the crossing over the Mackenzie River.

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