Seeing the northern lights at least once is probably a part of the bucket list of countless people all over the world. This display of natural light is just too beautiful and too mesmerizing to not want to see and admire.
Travel may be easier said than done in the middle of a pandemic, especially with strict border controls and quarantine restrictions being implemented by different countries all over the world. It cannot be ignored by those planning to see the northern lights, however, that the right time for peak viewing is slowly but surely approaching.
If you are planning to see the northern lights this year, it is important to keep in mind when to go, where to go, and even what camera you should have if you want to capture and preserve the magical moment.
Northern Lights 2021: When to Go
The northern lights, otherwise known as aurora borealis, are best viewed during winter and even spring, according to by Space. It is best to schedule your trip between December and April and make sure it coincides with a new moon.
"Active periods are typically about 30 minutes long, and occur every two hours, if the activity is high. The aurora is a sporadic phenomenon, occurring randomly for short periods or perhaps not at all," according to University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute Professor Emeritus Charles Deehr, who is also an aurora forecaster, as quoted in the Space article.
It is also recommended that you first check the aurora forecast in the place you are planning to watch so you can better time your trip with the appearance of the northern lights. Just because you plan your trip between the suggested months, the northern lights may or may not appear at any given day.
Northern Lights 2021: Where to Go
There are multiple places you can go to in Europe and North America to see the northern lights. The northern parts of European countries such as Finland, Norway, and Sweden are obvious choices for anyone going on a trip to see the aurora borealis.
Russia and Iceland are also possible choices tourists can consider, but these locations do have their limitations. According to the Space article, tourists who pick Iceland should made allowances for inclement weather while those who go for Russia should expect lack of tourism infrastructure in the locations where it is best to see the northern lights, which are also "relatively hard to get to."
As for North North America, Canada is a popular destination for those who want to see the aurora borealis. Towns such as Whitehouse, Churchill in Manitoba, or Yellowknife and the city of Fairbanks are good options to choose from.
If you want to stay within the United States, the west coast of Alaska is a good choice as well.
Given the pandemic, you should first check the travel restrictions of these destinations to save yourself from planning a trip you may end up not being allowed to make.
What Kind of Camera Should You Have
Seeing the aurora borealis is undoubtedly a special moment you probably want to take a photo of. The appearance of the aurora borealis can, however, be fleeting at times and not even visible to the naked eye.
"It wasn't really very visible to the naked eye, although people with adequate cameras could see it," according to Robert Steenburgh, the acting lead of the Space Weather Forecast Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Adequate cameras in the situation, according to the report by Space, are cameras that can take long exposure shots. If splurging on powerful and expensive cameras is really not in the cars for you, there are long exposure camera apps that you can use.
Expert Photography lists Shutter Stop, Stabilized Night Camera, Manual Camera DSLR, Slow Shutter Cam, Camera+ 2, and ProCamera as examples of long exposure camera apps.
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Written by Isabella James