Wow, the show starts to get impressive ...

Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
1
5
Trip End Mar 04, 2012


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What I did
Northern Lights

Flag of Norway  , North Norway,
Saturday, March 3, 2012

A clear and sunny day awaits us! This night's weather forecast predicts clear skies around Troms÷ and really cold temperatures ... if the solar wind deigns to do it's part as well we can expect a spectacular northern light show (predicted planetary K-index of 3 to 4) ... well, this sounds terrific, even better than yesterday, so let's hope.
But first we plan a little bit of sightseeing and climb the "Storsteinen" by cable car, a small mountain on the mainland, 421 meters above sea level. From the top you enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the island of Troms°, the fjord and the surrounding landscape.
On our way back Boris and I hop off our car at "Ishavskatedralen" (Arctic Cathedral , literally "The Cathedral of the Arctic Sea") and take a stoll over the "Bruvegen" bridge back to our hotel. The Arctic Cathedral built in 1967 is situated on the mainland and faces the Troms° city center and the sound. Because of the church's distinct look and location along the sea shore, it is often called "the opera house of Norway" in dependence on the famous Sydney Opera House ... well, well, well I don't know. At least this modern church is the most famous landmark of Troms° and features the biggest glas mosaic window (crafted by artist Victore Sparre) of Europe.
On our stroll back to the hotel we pass some nice old wooden-built Troms° town houses with theirs distinct colors . Unfortunately the old houses get often crushed by new concrete buildings with a rather ugly architecture.

Meeting time for this nights adventure is 17:00, we ready again our equipment, use the moon to set the focal point precisely to infinity, prepare sandwiches and thermos tea, jump into our numerous layers of warm cloths - this time we take extra care and add a layer on top because of the expected cold temperatures.
We leave Troms÷ in very good moods and with a lot of expectations, the sky isn't really clear - during the last couple of hours the weather changed a gain from bright towards overcast. Well from experience we know local conditions may be very different - no reason to worry. 
We head again to the west, direction Sommar÷y. We trust the local forecast informations and more importantly the huge experience of Dionys. During the last 5 to 6 years he developed an extra sense on where to have the best opportunity to get to see the Northern Lights. 
During the long and really cold night we changed several times our location as in the nights before. A first stop was during dawn at the shore of a fjord some 40km outside of town . Here we had a spectacular situation to experience the change from day light to soft dawn to night - though only a little bit of Northen Light was glowing! May be it was still not dark enough .

On ice-covered roads we head further to the west to our high valley where we find an excellent location. Here the sky is spot on clear, the moon illuminates the landscape with his bright, cold light. Each of us blazes his own trail through knee-deep almost powdery snow and begins to compact the snow to form a more or less stable platform for the tripod and the rest of the equipment. This is quite fun and more important it keeps us warm ...

This location is my all day favorite! It is so impressive and rewarding to be in this wonderful quiet landscape in the middle of nowhere, fighting the creeping coldness (-15 degrees centigrade) and watching the luminous show of the Northern Lights - just wow  ! Some light effects last a couple of seconds such as a corona (a light "explosion" right above us), some dance around forming curtains, some stand still for minutes or even longer, some are tube-shaped. Truly amazing. The main color of the spectacle is green with a yellowish touch, sometimes a blue or purple seam beams up.
 
An other highlight of this night are the two Northern Light coronas silently exploding just above us. What spectacular breath-taking show! To catch a corona you must be lucky in the first place, it doesn't happen to often and nothing indicates that a corona will start to form. Next you need to be well prepared (ready to quickly point your camera upwards and make sure that the shutter speed is adjusted) because every thing happens in just seconds ...






Later that night we move on and explore the shore line of an other fjord. Again a very distinct setup where the moon and the Northern Lights compete with each other and get mirrored in the calm waters.













Further material:
- Wikipedia Troms°
- Local weather forecast
- Northern Lights - where, when and what
- Aurora Hunter, lots of general information
- Some impressive pictures of solar eruptions taken by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
- Aurora Forecast Geophysical Instute, University of Alaska
- Aurora Activity Extrapolated from NOAA POES
Slideshow Report as Spam

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