Aurora Borelis is fantastic phenomenon to photograph. Commonly know as Northern lights is a natural light display in the Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude regions like Norway, Canada or Iceland. The Aurora is an incredible light show caused by collisions between electrically charged particles released from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen. When people ask when is the best time for seeing aurora, the answer does not come easy. There are a few factors you need to take into account:
It is commonly said that, you are likely to see aurora between November and March. Curiosity is that these charged particles colliding with earth’s magnetic field occur all the time but because of mind-sun phenomenon, we are not able to see this during the summer period. The highly recommendable time is winter season from 1st Dec to beginning of February as the long periods of darkness offers good views of Aurora Borealis on pitch-dark sky. The above-mention range of time seems to be perfect as it gives usually consistent and dry weather conditions without overcast sky. There is no fixed time to catch a glimmpse of Aurora displays, although it is relatively more visible on clear nights between 10pm to 2am.
The Aurora Borealis activity depends heavily on the Sun. You can easily keep yourself undated when checking sun activity on many dedicated smartphone apps or websites.
The Northern Lights are evaluated by means of Kp level
which shows you the strength of sun activity at given time. The highest results for Kp are shown on the North, although it is also possible to see Aurora at the edges of the Baltic sea in Poland or Estonia. The 11 years solar cycle determines visibility of Aurora as the sun is most active at solar maximum period. Sadly, the next peak of solar activity falls in 2024.
Another point is that you need to pick and choose places far away from the city lights and air pollutions as it simply spoils the show. Certainly, Aurora Borealis can be seen in the northern or southern hemisphere in its shapes and colors. There was a scientific prove that in most instances northern and southern auroras are mirror-like images that occur at the same time, with similar shapes and colors. Aurora tint is strongly Dependant on solar strength and the hight of atmosphere. The aurorrezone.com says:
Blue and purple are also colours which are seen less frequently and again, they tend to appear when solar activity is high. In this case, the colours are caused by particles colliding with our atmosphere at an altitude of 60 miles or less.
Most solar particles typically collide with our atmosphere at an altitude of around 60 to 150 miles where there are high concentrations of oxygen. When the Oxygen occur in a hight amounts at these altitudes it causes the Aurora to appear in shades of green. Probably we konw Aurora as a green dancing light across the sky. Highly recommended is Tromso, Lygen Alps, Senja or some parts of lofoten Islands. The condition really absorbing for scientists, it is also intriguing for photographers. Although in this the post i’m not supposed to be sharing some long exposure tips on only how to hunt Aurora Borealis as i will dedicate the separate post for it. Hopefully, the post with very active Aurora from the Reine, Makenoya destination.