Weekend Window: Northern Lights, Alaska

As people highlight their homes' facades with a variety of holiday colored-bulbs and icicle lights, nature displays its own light show in one of the world's most remote locations.

Extreme freezing temperatures accompany the colorful northern lights in Fairbanks, Alaska.

"[The] northern lights are very mysterious," said research professor Dirk Lummerzheim of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. "You have the sky full of these fantastic lights moving about and we have no clue. We don't know how it works, why it has the motion that it has."

The distinctive lights are known internationally, and visitors travel during the depths of Alaskan winter just to catch a glimpse of the glimmers in the sky.

"They have very beautiful colors. Usually a quiet aurora would be just a plain, green arc in the sky, but it can burst into colors of purple and pink at the low border with red on top of it," Lummerzheim said.

The northern lights are a distinct part of Fairbanks' uniqueness.

"This is a place not like any other place in the United States," said historian Terrence Cole. "Because there's snow on the ground for eight or nine months of the year, the little light that we do have comes back at us. It's reflected off the trees, the ground and it really is a gorgeous place in many ways."

"One of the wonderful things actually about living in Fairbanks in the winter time and the long, dark nights is to see and to enjoy and to just be awed by the majesty of the aurora borealis," Cole added. "It's a show above your head that you just can not resist to being drawn into."

The city also is known for its dog sledding and being the dog-watching capital of the world.

"People come up here and one of the things they want to do is drive a dog team or ride in a sled behind a dog team. [It's a] very Alaskan thing to do," said Leslie Goodwin of Adventure Sled Dog Tours. "All of our rivers become highways in Alaska in the wintertime, so there are many places we can go."

A chilly museum is even dedicated to the light show.

"[The Aurora Ice Museum is] a museum of an actual ice hotel," said Steve Brice, of the Aurora Ice Museum. "All the chandeliers are solid ice."

"They change colors about six times a minute giving kind of an aurora effect," Brice added.

Lummerzheim said part of the lights' allure is the fact that they are unreachable.

"They are out of our reach. We can not go there. We can not touch them," Lummerzheim said. "They are the biggest thing you've ever seen in your life."

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