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How to Photograph the Northern Lights

30 Mar 2017, 7:18 am

Pro Tip: Don’t

Some things in life were just simply meant to enjoy.

The Aurora

There is something absolutely mesmerizing about an aurora. Typically seen close to the poles, this rare phenomena is a treat not many have had the opportunity to enjoy.
Lights dancing across the night sky tell a story of a storm beyond the reaches of our own atmosphere.

The aurora is caused by a solar wind or discharged particles emitting from our sun. Those electrically charged particles enter our atmosphere where they collide with earth’s magnetic field and emit different colors of the light spectrum as they combine with different elements high over head.

The most common color is the greenish yellow we often see, this is caused by a collision with oxygen almost 60 miles above the earth’s surface.
The second most common, purplish red aurora comes from the particles’ collision with nitrogen.


Believe it or not, with modern advances in technology, we can actually forecast the aurora these days!

NOAA takes care of a 30-minute forecast, and its a great resource if you want to know if it’s worth getting out of bed in the middle of the night!
Check it out here.

There is even a 3-day test product that will give you a better idea of what you can expect in the coming nights!
Here is a link to the 3-day forecast.

And don’t forget to check with WeatherNation to see cloud cover for your potential viewing.

Viewing Tips

As with any nocturnal event, you’ll want to be sure you are as far from light pollution as you can feasibly be.
Less light pollution means darker skies and the aurora will be more pronounced.

Here are some additional tips from NOAA.

Oh, and don’t forget a thermos filled with a warm beverage for those exceptionally cold nights.

Taking the Perfect Photograph

Seriously, can’t we just enjoy nature?

The Gear:

  • Camera (personal preference)
  • Wide Angle Lens
  • Sturdy Tripod
  • Cable release (take the photo without touching the camera)
  • Extra batteries (especially in the cold)

Here’s a good starting point on those camera settings:

  • ISO: 1600
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Exposure: between 15 and 20 seconds

The key is trial and error. Take a bunch of photos and adjust the settings accordingly.

New Zealand

A charter flight to see the Aurora! This flight left New Zealand Thursday night and headed toward the Antarctic Circle to view the Aurora Australis. Cool concept, but tickets weren't cheap…US $2,775 for two seats on board!

Posted by WeatherNation on Sunday, March 26, 2017


As always, not all of us are excellent photographers. So if you get a good picture, share!
If you share them with us here at WeatherNation, we will share them back with our viewers from around the country!

Places to share:

Happy shooting!

4K Footage Of Aurora Borealis Captured From Space Station is L…

Spectacular 4K video of the #AuroraBorealis seen from International Space

Posted by WeatherNation on Wednesday, April 20, 2016

For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo


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