2018 had started and its New Year’s Day, and another attempt at trying to find the Northern Lights! I can now see why people have said of the Northern Lights that they are a planetary phenomenon, and you need luck to be able to find them.
I knew it needed to be the right conditions, as in needing a perfectly clear sky, no city-light pollution, and the right amount of solar activity to create this mystical light of which was named by the French scientist, Pierre Gassendi as the ‘Aurora Borealis’, named after the Goddess of Dawn, Aurora and the God of the North Wind, Boreas. And on the subject of wind….finding the Aurora felt like it was going to be like looking for a fart in a jacuzzi! Just not possible!
This time, I was heading even further inland and towards Lapland, near to the borders of Sweden and Finland. The conditions were looking good as we careered along the snowy roads of Northern Norway, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and eventually stopped near to a fjord in a valley between huge mountains in a village called Skibotn.
I hiked up the snow in the freezing wind, pitch black dark was thankfully trailed up some kind of pathway by candles and lead me into the clearing where the small tent had been erected, where I could begin to observe the extremely clear sky that was being brightly lit by a huge full moon.
When looking up I noticed these white whispy moving clouds in front of the constellation of Ursa Major, slightly hiding the formation of stars….and I wondered if these could be the Northern Lights possibly?
I had already prepared and set my DSLR Camera to the best settings for capturing the Northern Lights (I will give a guide to these settings that I used at the end of the blog post). When taking a photo of these dancing clouds in the moonlit sky, the digital display on my camera showed them up as being bright green!!!
I had been expecting to see dancing green lights in the sky, but with the Aurora on this night being quite weak due to low solar activity it was hard to see colour, because as our eyes change to their own version of night-vision, we lose the ability to pick up colours, but a camera doesn’t.
The reason for these incredible lights showing up as green is because they were quite low in altitude, so the red emissions are suppressed rather than the green emissions because of more collisions taking place between the gas atoms.
So finally I got to witness the Northern Lights!!! One of the natural wonders of the world, and it didn’t disappoint me as it moved over the snow topped mountain above me and across the sky like a bright green streak painted up there.
The fact that my hands had gone numb, and I couldn’t feel my nose anymore, didn’t matter as I just stood there and gazed up at the Northern Light’s majestic out-of-this-world beauty.
I have now witnessed one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and can absolutely understand why it is one of them.
Good settings for capturing the Northern Lights:
I used my Canon EOS 750D DSLR for the shots and the settings I used were:
- High ISO setting. 1600 is a good start.
- Low Aperture setting. For example 2.8.
- Long Shutter speed setting. I used around 8 secs, but some recommend about 20 secs.
- Using a tripod would be advisable, which I didn’t, as there will be less blur with long shutter speed setting.