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Stories from Lapland

Chasing The Northern Lights

Published on November 2018

Author
Martin Stefanov / Guide

My name is Martin and I’m a guide. My specialty is snowmobiling and hunting Northern Lights. My favorite trip is the Northern Lights chasing. The main reason is that I love photography and no matter how many pictures I take of Aurora, she appears always different. It’s a kind of art. I have five years experience of Aurora hunting. Let me summaries in a few sentences what I think you might be interested in, related to your dream to see the magical colors in the night sky.

Where? – Talking about north, anywhere around and beyond the Arctic Circle line.

When? – From September until the first days of April. Out of this time frame nights are getting too bright here.

What time? – I wish I knew. However, I believe you should try between 8 pm and midnight.

Can I take a picture of Aurora with my phone? – Technically yes. If your phone camera is good, just go on manual settings and change them to night photography. Yet, the best pictures are taken with DSLR or mirrorless cameras on a tripod. If you’re lucky enough your guide will be able to help you with taking a good picture. Make sure you learn the camera settings in advance, so you don’t have to try to guess them on the spot.

How long? – Aurora can stay on the sky anything from a few minutes up to several hours.

Is it going to be the same as in the pictures I’ve seen on the internet? – Most likely not. Yet, similar, online pictures are often photoshopped, so the lights look more saturated than in real.

What’s the color of Aurora? – It is mostly green. Sometimes you can see shades of purple or red.

Can I see Aurora if it’s cloudy? – Well, not impossible, but you have to be lucky to have a break in the clouds. If the clouds are very thick and don’t move, you won’t see any lights other than those from the fire that your guide will make for you. However, here in North, the weather changes in a blink of an eye and clouds can move away as fast as they came. A basic rule is: if you can see some stars, then the sky is clear enough to spot Aurora. Completely clear sky would be great, but it’s not a must.

What else?

  • Dress up. No, I don’t mean fancy, Take the best winter clothes you possess or book your trip with a local agency so that they will provide you with the necessary gear.
  • If you’re a proud parent of kids, you can take them along. Beware if they are below 3 years old, not only they wouldn’t appreciate the Aurora at all and would rather sleep at that time, but they might feel pretty cold. The temperatures around Rovaniemi in the winter are around minus 20 degrees. This shouldn’t scare you. However, if you’ve done skiing on minus 10 degrees and felt hot this doesn’t mean you’ll be fine with the same clothes on minus 20 degrees while not being physically active waiting for Aurora.
  • May the focus of your trip NOT be Aurora. The north is very exotic and it can offer a lot. In the area of Rovaniemi, we have museums, huskies, reindeer, snowmobiles, hiking trails, and so forth. Experience all these, and if you’re lucky to spot Aurora, then take this as a gift from Mother Nature.

Wishing you good luck on your next Aurora hunt!

Martin

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