Chasing Aurora Borealis in Tromsø

Chasing Aurora Borealis in Tromsø

How many facts do you know about Aurora Borealis (Northern lights)? Or, better say, how many prejudices and stereotypes you had about it? Honestly, I wasn’t aware of many things until I didn’t experience the whole phenomena myself.

I went to a Northern part of Norway to visit my family, in the city called Tromsø. I spent there only 4 days and yes, in this 4 days I was extremely lucky to see a bit of Aurora Borealis!

Lucky to see Aurora Borealis? Why lucky?!

Do you know how is actually difficult to spot Aurora Borealis? The view I saw I couldn’t even picture. While being in Tromsø I learned that taking a picture of Aurora Borealis is almost impossible. Most of the time you can only picture a dark sky with some stains on it. The clarity of Northern lights depends on so many factors. For the ones who plan to do a trip and find the lights, see the list below and find some facts about Aurora Borealis.

1) Aurora doesn’t appear every night.

Many people think Aurora Borealis is on the sky 24/7. I need to disappoint you – that’s a complete bullshit. And pardon my English but really, do you know how many people spend their fortune to go there and get shocked? In Tromsø Aurora Borealis didn’t appear for quite some time already. Visibility of Northern lights depends on many things and, of course, depends mostly on the weather. The sky must be clear. No clouds, no rain.

Do you know how is that difficult in the climate full of fog and rain in this part of the year?!

2) Even when it appears, Aurora is not visible in the city.

You must go in the complete dark (on some hill or field outside of the city) and wait for it. If you are in Tromsø, you can do it on the hill of the city, or you can take an organized tour. To clarify, there are tours worth around 150e and more which is, in my opinion, horribly expensive. In this tour, you are brought by bus to an open field, 50 or more km outside of the city. There are usually some blankets and waffles provided to keep you warmer. That is nice indeed but the worst thing is that even if you go on a tour, freeze yourself for a few hours, no one can guarantee that you’ll see Aurora Borealis. Why? Because of point 1. Visibility of Aurora Borealis depends on various things, even in places outside of the city.

People freeze in this complete darkness sometimes even up to 5 hours.

In case you stay in the city and climb up to some hill you might be lucky to see it as well. Note that once it happens, you must somehow “chase it”. Why? Because Aurora keeps moving! You have to find a good spot for observing although you usually don’t have time for it. Lights disappear very fast!

3) When it appears it’s not as intense.

It’s blurry, not too clear and it changes its shape and color very fast (milliseconds). While looking at it, you also have a feeling it’s moving and in my case, it looks like it’s running away. It reminds on aliens in the sky.

4) As I already mentioned, it’s visible in person, however, on the photo, it’s not there.

I saw it crystally clear and on my photos is not visible (almost) at all. To try to get the color from the phone, I needed to use filters and it worked only a bit and on some photos. Photos shared online are from completely dark fields, photoshopped and usually done by a professional camera.

Long story short – it’s a bit more complicated than it looks like but worth it. It’s all about the experience. And, I mean…everything in life requires work and pain anyway, right? 😀

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