Sunday, September 28, 2014

LEARNING ABOUT THE AURORA BOREALIS


The Northern Lights can only be seen in Iceland during the darker months between the autumn and spring equinoxes. I was there at the end of September, which is one of the best times for this phenomenon. However, I didn't see them; not because of cloud conditions but due to long day tours that had me exhausted. It was not of prime importance as I had already seen the aurora borealis at their best in rural Canada in a display of many colours weaving over the sky for about 40 minutes. Here the colour is mostly green.

Many of those on our tours were mad keen to go out at night, well away from the city lights, and observe them. The tour companies here are experienced in the best spots to view the lights and make every effort to ensure visitors see them.

For those that are unlucky, I would suggest that they visit a new exhibit, Aurora Reykjavik, down by the harbour and close to the Maritime Museum. It is not a big place, but especially informative about sun spots and how they cause the lights.



Northern European countries have many ancient explanations about the aurora that will make you smile. Alongside that is the scientific explanation with excellent diagrams, images, and a video. In the small theatre, a time-lapse movie of some sightings around Iceland runs continuously, so visitors can see what they've missed.

A photo of a photo!
The last section is devoted to how to photograph the Northern Lights, which are demanding as they occur at night. Tripods are essential, of course. Aurora Reykjavik have set up a means for photographers to try it out and it's very helpful. I was able to find out exactly the settings I need to use for my Nikon prime 35mm and kit 18-55mm lenses. Phone cameras won't work too well!

This is an interesting visit for adults, but I feel not really suitable for children under 14.


Cost: Adults, 1,600ISK; students, seniors, 1,400ISK; 6-18yrs, 1,000ISK.
Small gift shop and café with free tea and coffee.

Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska — The Aurora Bo...
Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska — The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, shines above Bear Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 IMAGES: Except the last image, © Photos by Pharos 2014. All rights reserved