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Justin Anderson became a member of the Xplore team when we acquired NetSet Communications, in Manitoba in 2017.

Now he’s part of Xplore’s commercial division, Xplore Business.

Justin is an Enterprise Solutions Specialist on the Presale Engineering team, which designs customized Internet solutions based on the business customer’s unique needs.

He also happens to be an Xplore customer.

“I have Xplore Internet at home, I work for Xplore, I really rely on Xplore – I sort of live the brand! The Internet works really well. I have had it for my whole life because I’ve always lived outside of Brandon, Manitoba. I can work from home no problem,” he said.

His favourite part of his job is the ability to get creative and provide individualized service.

“Quite often, new customers come to us with past issues and we have the freedom to think outside the box and come up with a solution that doesn’t just Band-Aid fix it, but permanently fixes it,” he explained.

When he’s not designing solutions for business customers, Justin has a particularly incredible side hustle, photographing the Northern Lights.

“I’m the Manitoba Aurora Borealis guy,” he said proudly.

His first memory of the Northern Lights was during an annual fishing trip he took with his dad growing up.

“Every year, my dad and I would go way up North on a weeklong fishing trip. We went up there and, sure enough, the Aurora was dancing. We were standing on the edge of the dock. The next year, I took a camera and that was my first time taking photos of the Northern Lights,” he explained.

Justin picked up his photography skills on YouTube and perfected them with lots of practice.

“I kept going out every night and trying again and again, getting better with each time I failed,” he said.

Now, Justin’s photography has been shared by Canon Canada, CTV National News, CBC News, and Global News, and he’s won two prestigious awards.

This photo, which shows the zodiacal light and Milky Way won the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Photo of the Year, a prize which included $3,000 worth of high-tech stargazing gear.

And this one won NASA’s Astronomical Photo of the Day which Justin said is one of the highest honours anyone can achieve.

“You could be competing against a rover or a satellite, so for a person to win – it's basically everyone’s dream. I have my own NASA APOD,” he said with astonishment.

To be considered, entrants have to submit an essay on why and how they took the photo, including the camera settings. What makes this photo so significant is that it shows noctilucent cloud formations, and you can see fireflies in the foreground.

This isn’t the only way that Justin is connected to NASA. He’s also a volunteer ambassador with their Aurorasaurus program, which aims to use volunteer-collected data to understand the Northern Lights better.

While Justin was living in Alberta, he found that there was a community on Facebook that would alert the group whenever the aurora was out. With many experts making conversation within the group, being a member helped Justin learn the science behind the aurora and how to read satellite data and make these predictions himself.

When he returned home to Manitoba, he saw that there was no similar group so he started one himself called Manitoba Aurora and Astronomy. Anytime chances of seeing the aurora are good, he and his community post in the group.

“It gives everybody an alerting system so that if they want to see if the aurora is out they don’t have to read satellite data,” he said.

The group now has 40K members. This is how Justin became the Manitoba aurora guy.

“I was at a wedding on the weekend and someone recognized me and said, “you’re that guy!” Another time I walked into the store to buy furniture and the person working there said “Are you Justin?” It’s pretty rewarding to be the aurora guy,” he said.

In February of this year while editing photos with a friend Justin discovered that all this time, he has been colourblind.

“My friend could see green that I couldn’t see,” he said.

Justin’s greens are muted compared to what we would see. Where we might be looking at the aurora and seeing green, he mostly sees grey.

“It’s still pretty incredible,” he said.

Justin says being colourblind actually makes the aurora more meaningful to him.

“What I’m seeing is a little different than everybody else. The aurora is spectacular in person, but the camera picks it up better than the naked eye. Being colourblind in this role is meaningful because I’m showing people what I can’t see,” he explained.

In fact, his unique perspective got him a spot as an online speaker at the Aurora Summit in Wisconsin this year.

“The person who was putting it on reached out to me privately and asked me if I wanted to be a speaker. I put in an application about the colour science of the Aurora, how our eyes see colour, why my eyes see differently, how the camera sees and how all these experiences compare, and it was accepted,” he said.

Justin’s latest project is hosting guided trips to chase the Northern Lights in Churchill, Manitoba.

Churchill is not only the polar bear capital of the world but one of the best places to see the Northern Lights.

“Even when the Aurora is weak, they can see it in Churchill because it’s so close to the magnetic North Pole. It’s out every night as long as it’s dark and not cloudy,” he explained.

In September, he’s headed there for four weeks to learn everything he needs to know about how to safely take visitors on guided tours, despite the town’s special predators.

“I’m learning how to guide people safely. Watching for polar bear signs, how to avoid them, and chasing the Aurora for 4 weeks straight,” he said.

Outside of his wilderness education and planning the tours, Justin will be working remotely for Xplore.

“Xplore has given me the freedom to pursue my passion and has supported me in every way,” he said.

At just 24 years old, Justin says he can handle Internet engineering during the day and chasing the Aurora at night. We could not be prouder of our resident Northern Lights expert!

Churchill Northern Lights tour details will be available soon. Spots will sell out fast so make sure to follow Justin on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and visit his website at https://highhopesaurora.com/.