Every year, there are at least a handful of occasions when the news tells us that we are in for a celestial treat; usually it’s a comet, an eclipse, aligned planets, meteor showers or, as was the case tonight, the Northern Lights.
On every single occasion, without exception, I’ve seen absolutely nothing.
Granted, I’ve often opted for my bed over a cold night in the garden, but when I have been bothered to look, I’ve been rewarded with disappointment every time.
Tonight, my wife, children and I traipsed to a high point across a dark field, to stare north – having been told by an aurora app that the moment was nigh.
With our body temperatures slowly dropping, we waited patiently in the cold, our eyes fixed on the horizon.
A short while later, having seen precisely nothing, and after losing feeling in my fingers, we gave up, retreated back across the field and returned home.
I could have foretold this outcome before setting foot outside our front door, but for some reason I still gave it a go. Space has always fascinated me and, although I can barely watch five minutes of any Brian Cox documentary before being completely lost, I appreciate the scale and mystery of the universe.
However, I also suspect that news readers, weather forecasters and journalists across the UK have a secret fake-news agenda, purely to see how many idiots – like me – walk miles in the dark to look at nothing. Huw Edwards, no doubt, is currently poring over Twitter, laughing uncontrollably as #NorthernLights trends.
Despite tonight’s dissapointment, I’ll be out there again, dragging my family with me, the next time we’re told that we need to make an effort to see a once in a million-year intergalactic event. You’ll be able to spot us easily, we’ll be the ones on the hill, unsuitably dressed for the weather and arguing over which way to look. See you there.