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Nature's light show 'once-in-a-lifetime' trip

[ 2013-10-08 11:12] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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For amateur stargazer Li Ren, seeing the aurora borealis - the natural light show that appears over the Arctic - will be a childhood dream come true.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," the 29-year-old said. "It simply cannot be missed."

The State-owned enterprise employee, who as a youngster had hoped to be an astronomer, will finally get his chance to see the spectacle on China's first aurora observation trip.

Li will be among 22 people heading to Yellow Knife, a town in northwestern Canada, on Sept29 to witness the northern lights, which are caused when energy particles collide with atoms at high altitudes.

The trip, which cost each person 30,000 yuan ($4,900), has been organized by the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory and will last until Oct 7.

Zhu Dayi, international cooperation director at the observatory, said it usually takes a cycle of 11 years for the solar activity of the sun to peak and provide the best time to observe the aurora. This year falls in that cycle.

"The last time the sun reached its peak activity, digital camera technology was not as developed," he said. "I believe participants will take fantastic pictures this time."

The journey is far more than about taking pictures for most people, however.

"The younger generation has changed their lifestyle. There are more things worth pursuing, other than houses and cars," Li said.

For many years, Japanese, especially senior citizens, have been regular observers of the aurora - named after the Roman goddess of dawn -in Yellow Knife. However, insiders say they have seen a growing group interested in aurora observation.

"Tours like the aurora trip cater to a very small group of people, but we're seeing a growing interest in this kind of travel," said Qiang Yi, assistant manager of North American travel at Shanghai Jin Jiang Tours, another organizer of the aurora observation trip.

"Travelers want their trip customized and in-depth. You can see that there are fewer travelers opting for trips covering more than 10 European countries in a dozen days. They'd rather stay for a longer time in one place."

Apart from aurora observation, trips including observing polar bears in the North Pole and a longer trip to the South Pole are gaining growing popularity, Qiang added.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Nature's light show 'once-in-a-lifetime' trip

About the broadcaster:

Nature's light show 'once-in-a-lifetime' trip

Anne Ruisi is an editor at China Daily online with more than 30 years of experience as a newspaper editor and reporter. She has worked at newspapers in the U.S., including The Birmingham News in Alabama and City Newspaper of Rochester, N.Y.