In 2012 the solar activities were expected to reach a climax, a very good reason for me to go for
hunting the Aurora Borealis - the northern lights.
The best locations here in Europe are Iceland, Finland and Norway. As I always wanted to see the city of Tromsø, the decision was easy - let´s go to Norway. Tromsø is located 350 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle at the north eastern coast and actually build on multiple islands. On top of that, it has an airport for hassle free arrival. By choosing SAS as airline the travel time via Olso was about 7 hours. The service of SAS was acceptable for the price.
I expected it to be cold there - close to the North Pole, but when I arrived there in December it was warmer than at home - about minus 8 degrees. Anyway warm clothes are absolutely necessary when doing any outdoor activities up here, especially when you are trying to become a musher and explore the nature with the powerful Huskies. They were so excited and eager to show their talents, it was a sheer delight. Steering the sledge across the countryside, enjoying the clear fresh air and the silence around you, an unforgettable experience will be embedded in your memories.
The people in Tromsø are used to cold weather and a lot of snow. Best example is how they handle the amount of snow on the streets. The snowplows reminded me more of construction vehicles. Salt or grit is not used to get the roads safer. Instead the tires of the cars are mounted with spikes. Exploring the area around Tromsø with my rental car was much easier than I thought. Although there were situations when it was snowing so heavily that I was not able anymore to spot the borders of the road. Note the sign beside the road and poor visibility of bends in the picture on the right.
Arriving in December the weather forecast estimated a lot of new snow. But I was lucky; there were
a couple of days with less clouds and snow. That was the time to pack my camera and the tripod
and put on my warm winter clothes - jumping into the car and chasing the northern lights.
The best time to observe the phenomenon will be between 10 o´clock in the night to 2 in the morning. Catching the Aurora Borealis on a picture can be very demanding. You need to fight the cold, the snow and the surrounding lights. So find a place between the Fjords outside the city or small towns.
I took the road 862 direction north out of Tromsø and stayed on it following
the direction to Sommarøy. During the course of the road you can find a lot of spots
ideal for taking pictures.
Do not forget to bring a lot of patience and some hot beverages to shorten the waiting time.
The pictures shown here are done with an aperture of 4 at 28mm and an exposure time between 10 and 30 seconds. I chose a high ISO because the northern lights I observed were only visible to the naked eye for around one minute before they disappeared.