One of the primary motivations to visit Iceland during the winter season was to witness the Northern Lights with our naked eyes. I am happy to say that, we did witness the Northern Lights and photograph them too, on the 3rd night of our Iceland trip a few weeks ago. It was an exhilarating experience, and the spectacular show lasted for about 30 minutes or more, giving ample time to photograph them from two different locations in long exposure mode.
One of them included a beautiful mini waterfall in the foreground. Witnessing Northern Lights does require a good deal of planning, the help of a local guide, and some good karma. Coincidentally, we witnessed it on the night of Maha Shivratri. Here are the extended set of pics processed this weekend.
The Northern Lights (aurora borealis), which are one of the most spectacular shows on this earth and can frequently be seen in Iceland from September through March on clear and crisp nights. The Northern Lights occur high above the surface of the earth where the atmosphere has become extremely thin, at an altitude of 100-250 km. They are created by electrically charged particles that make the thin air shine, not unlike a fluorescent light. Auroras can be seen in auroral belts that form 20-25 degrees around the geomagnetic poles, both the north and the south.
Per wiki, auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere) due to Earth’s magnetic field, where their energy is lost.
The name Northern Lights was first chronicled in the original Old Norse, as “norðrljós”, in 1230; while the name Aurora Borealis (“Dawn of the North”) is jointly credited to have first been used by Galileo Galilei and Petrus Gassendus in the 17th century. Derived from Aurora, the Roman goddess of Dawn, and Boreas, the Greek god of the North Wind, the name evokes some of the majestic, otherworldly splendor of an auroral display.