When I saw auroras for the first time I did not understand anything about it, for me it was mysterious and I couldn’t stop looking. It was pure magic. Meanwhile years have passed and I try to see as many aurora shows as possible. I hardly can imagine anything better than being outside at night, equipped only with my camera gear and some tea. Waiting all alone in a forest, an open field, on a frozen lake or on the top of a hill is very exciting, believe it or not! Once the sky turns green all those hours are worth it.
On March 15th 2013 there was a huge eruption on the sun’s surface. Two days later the solar storm hit Earth. It was a special night for me and now I’ll take you along with me.
Our journey starts just past noon on March 17th. I went online to check www.spaceweather.com for any updates of when the storm would hit. To my horror it already started in the morning! One of my worst fears might become reality: The storm would last only during daylight here in Finland.
At 5 pm the storm was still strong and my fear changed into hope. I figured the best chance to see auroras would be right after dusk. Sunset was at 6.24pm which meant that I needed to be at my spot around 8pm.
I charged batteries, filled the thermos with tea and got dressed. At 6.50pm I was ready to go. On the way a friend called, so I stopped the car to have a chat. It was not completely dark yet but I opened the window, put my head outside and looked straight up. The first green was already visible! As quickly (and politely) as possible I ended the call and drove the last kilometers like a maniac.
Out of the car the skies were clear, no auroras. I needed to walk about half an hour to reach my spot. After 50 meters ‘all hell broke loose’, I can’t describe it any differently. Lots and lots of auroras appeared, bright arcs, needles in green and purple, dancing like crazy in the bluish sky! At first I couldn’t move, it was so amazing. Then I shouted out loud, singing and jumping around like a boy in a candy store.
It took a good while before I remembered that I actually wanted to take pictures as well! I quickly set up the tripod and camera and started taking pictures into one direction. Then I looked behind me and saw a green arc travelling right through the moon, it was so strong. Gotta take pictures of that!
At one point I realized my car was in the frame. Seeing all these great auroras above my car, I swore to myself. It could be over any minute. Anyway I took my backpack, camera & tripod and ran about hundred meters through the snow. I looked straight up and saw the most beautiful corona opening up. Got to move the camera! After that the sky calmed down while I tried to understand what I just saw.
On the path were high trees towards South, so I needed to get to my spot from where I had a good few into all direction. I walked for a while but had to stop again. The next color wave came!
Eventually I got to my spot, after almost three hours. I stayed for a long time, seeing amazing things in the sky and even drank some tea. What a wild night! When I got home and tried to sleep, all I saw were auroras dancing in my mind. No chance to sleep, yet…
That was it; a trip with me on this special night. If you want to comment or had similar experiences, I’d be happy to read from you!