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Northern Lights and Noctilucent clouds

Last night I got to see some amazing Northern Lights for the first time this season. Seeing the Northern Lights as early as on the 8th of August is actually a new personal record for me.

As you can see in this photo I also got to see some Noctilucent clouds together with the Northern Lights. This combination is not that common and I’m really glad I got to combine these two beautiful sky phenomenons.

This is a panoramic image made from 7 photos stitched together. The photos were taken around 01:30 local Swedish time, close to the city of Östersund, Sweden. 
 

It all started around 23:30 local time. I saw the first glimpses of a faint Northern Light over a colorful sunset sky. It came and went a few times but never was that intense so I decided to change location to get another foreground since I’ve done this framing several times.

About an hour later the Northern lights started to be a bit more intense but not that bright. I kept my eye on the data from aurora satellites and I could see that the activity was picking up.

Here’s a close-up shot of the Noctilucent clouds together with some regular clouds.

All of sudden the sky exploded above me with a intense Northern Light corona. It lasted just a couple of minutes before it faded away. 

And after almost 3 hours outside waiting for that perfect moment it all came to pieces. The Northern Light picked up in strength while the Noctilucent clouds still was clearly visible.

This turned out to be a fantastic start of the upcoming aurora season and I’m so glad everything fell into place. Now I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.

Here’s a few tips for Northern Light photography

  • Follow the Northern Light forecast through phone apps (Search for Aurora forecast) or websites like spaceweatherlive.comnoaa.gov etc.
  • Scout and decide your location during daylight. Look for interesting and exciting things to work with in your foreground.
  • Bring fully charged batteries, tripod, headlamp, warm clothes, something warm to drink, and don’t forget your patience. It can sometimes be a long wait. Last time I waited for about three hours before the show started.
  • As for exposure, start with something like 5-10 seconds at ISO 1600, it all depends on your surroundings and the intensity of the Northern Lights, it can vary a lot throughout the night.
  • Regarding choice of lenses, since Northern Lights can be quite big in the sky a wide angle lens is your best choice. I usually work between 14 and 50-70 mm, mostly in the lower end.
  • Remember to look around the sky, the activity can change location really quick.
  • Don’t forget to experiment with different exposure times and ISO values. Go crazy and see what happens, you never know what you will get.

Feel free to visit my Northern Light gallery.