People always ask me what the aurora looks like in reality. Some even ask if it’s actually visible to the naked eye.
Is it really as amazing as it looks in pictures? Is it really that bright and colorful and does it dance as it does in a timelapse video?
YES! I keep telling people yes! It is that amazing, it dances across the sky like massive waves of light, it fades out only to come back even stronger. Some nights it’s just a faint green glow, seemingly stationary. Other nights it’s rapidly shooting across the sky, creating ripples of pink and green as it moves.
Aurora can cover almost the entire sky and you’re standing there beneath it all. Not knowing where to look because in every direction there’s this unbelievable beauty, always changing, always moving. It’s a sight you’ll never forget and it’s an experience that strikes you at your core.
I’m lucky to be living far above the arctic circle. Every season for as long as I can remember I’ve seen this light show in the sky but I will never get tired of it. How could you?
October 4, 2016, using the Sony a7S
On Tuesday night, October 4th, the sky was on fire. The aurora flared up and gave me an amazing show. A show I wish everyone would get the chance to experience. On this night I was finally able to record the aurora dancing in the sky in real-time! Thanks to this new wave of “see in the dark” cameras we can now document our night sky as it looks when we’re standing there.
I used the mirrorless Sony a7S camera which has a full frame sensor. With ISO up to 409600(!) it truly sees in the dark. This video is shot at ISO 32000. On my other cameras the noise at those levels would leave images unsalvageable but thanks to the large pixels on the a7s it came out remarkably good at 32000. (Note: I have done some noise reduction in post processing.)
This is not a timelapse, it’s not several long exposures put together. This is the aurora, as it happened, as I saw it, here in Kiruna, Sweden, on the night of October 4th, and I’m so happy to be able to share this with you!
So Yes! The aurora is just that amazing, it is that brilliant, bright and beautiful. I hope you all will get to experience the show live someday.
If someone would want to schedule a long trip to see the Aurora, how would you go about timing this?
That is very hard to say. The aurora is visible up here from September until April. I love viewing the aurora both in autumn and winter. At this time of year it can be super intense since the landscape is so dark now before the snow comes. In winter though you’ll get a real winter wonderland experience. Polar night in December is beautiful too, it gets dark around 5pm already and you get the most beautiful pink/blue light during what I call our sunless sunrises and sunsets. You also get wonderful scenes at night with tons of snow and the aurora on clear nights. 🙂 Basically, it’s almost impossible to say when to go, just keep track of the solar activity and longterm weather forecasts. (Although the weather changes constantly.)
I’ve enjoyed your stills for a few years now, Mia, but this video blows them all away. How amazing to have seen and captured such a wonder. Thank you so very much for bringing this to us!
hi, what should my settings be when I use a sony a6300, with a 16mm, f1.4 lens for videoing the northern lights? thank you so much
hi, i have a sony a7iii and use f1.4, 1/25-1/30s and iso 40,000 iso. adjust the shutter speed and ISO and see what you get. 🙂 all the best.