Discharged particles penetrating earth’s magnetic shield may, in fact, sound like a jumble of scientific terms, but when the Northern Lights dance across the night sky, the effect is both science and art. The aurora borealis is an incredible phenomenon — and it makes incredible photos. But, like other night sky photography, capturing the Northern Lights can be tricky without the right gear, some planning and finishing touches with Lightroom or Photoshop.
Are you ready to turn a scientific phenomenon into art? Here are the ten tips to shooting and editing the Aurora Borealis.
Plan the time (and location) around solar flares and light pollution
The Northern Lights, as the name suggests are more likely to be spotted the farther north you are — between 68 and 74 degrees latitude tend to be the best spots for viewing the lights, which includes parts of Canada, Alaska, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Another similar phenomenon, the Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights, can often be viewed from southern Australia, New Zealand, and Chile. You can use an online calculator to see the likelihood of seeing the lights on a certain date at a particular location.
Booking a trip to a northern town still isn’t a guarantee to get a good glimpse at the lights, however. In the summer, areas that are far north has very short time frame where it’s actually dark enough while winter and spring leave the most darkness. You’ll also want to avoid light pollution, both the artificial kind from cities and the natural kind from a full moon.