A Witness Account of Auroral Sounds
The following is a response from Jacques D'Avignon of Canada to our Web pages on auroral sounds - an "ear" witness account of auroral sounds.
When, about one year ago, I started reading about the flurry of activity to ascertain that you could hear the sounds of the aurora, I believed that it was a joke. Hearing aurorae has been something very usual for me, and it was my understanding that everyone heard them. Now, I find that I was completely mistaken.
From 1952 until 1969 my work had me travelling in very remote areas of Eastern Canada and in many places I had to sleep in remote camps because of the distances involved in travelling back to "civilisation"; it was not unusual for me to find myself in the evening to be as far as 200 kilometres from the nearest village let alone town! In many of these remote sites, when the night was clear it was unbelievable to see all the stars that could be seen.
At the same time, the auroral displays were absolutely out of this world! You did not see the aurora every night but when conditions were right, the spectacle was breathtaking. In many of these remote sites, the noise level is very low, especially after the electricity-producing diesel was shut off around 21:00 local. Then it was "deafening" silence!
When the aurorae were seen, I could hear a sound resembling a "swishing" sound. It is very difficult to explain what it really sounds like. The level of the sound would change in intensity as the aurorae would become more or less luminous, the intensity of the sound would also change if you had auroral "darts" flowing out of the main body of the aurora or if you had a sudden change in intensity of all or part of the "curtain".
This report is not really a very "scientific" report but it is more a history of what I have always thought was a normal occurrence. I have not been out in many years to look and listen to the aurorae, mostly because I have not had the chance to be out in areas where there is silence of the surroundings and a dark sky.