Of all the stunning natural phenomena, the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, might be the most spectacular. “The northern lights result when charged particles streaming from the sun collide with molecules high up in Earth’s atmosphere, exciting these molecules and causing them to glow,” according to Space.com.
Those glowing streaks in the sky, which occur only at high and low latitudes, can be hard to pin down and even harder to capture, but we’ve got some ideas for you.
Know your location
Northern Scandinavia, which tends to have low light pollution, is ideal for unfettered viewing. Alaska and the Canadian Yukon are prime in North America, and sometimes the lights can creep as far south as Pennsylvania. Russia tends to be less than perfect, because there isn’t much infrastructure for tourism to get you where you’d need to go, and the same goes for most of the far-south latitudes.
Time your viewing
According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, “the dark of the moon in March is the best time of year to travel to the auroral zone since the yearly variation of auroral activity also peaks around the equinox.”
On the nights you try to see the lights, your best viewing will probably be between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., but you can catch them anytime it’s dark.
Check the weather
Aurora Services has an aurora forecast, so you can check solar winds in addition to things like cloud cover. Look at the phases of the moon, too; a new moon is best because there will be less light to distract.
Like pretty much anything worth doing, you’re probably going to have to wait for the good stuff. Lie back, relax and keep your eyes on the sky. The aurora borealis starts subtly at first.
Set your aperture
It can be hard to capture the northern lights on film, but if you want to ‘gram the experience, some general advice is to bring a tripod and set your ISO high and your exposure long.
More about the northern lights from GrindTV