Make a wish – aurora adventure with shooting stars

One of the most active meteor showers, the Geminids, are underway on Dec-13/14th and last night I was lucky to see about 50-60 shooting stars while – once again – looking for auroras. Yesterdays adventure started very late, it was almost midnight. I’ve been waiting for auroras to show up due to some strong activity on the sun, but for a long time nothing happened. At midnight I went with a friend in hope that we’d see Northern lights.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

A frozen lake with the city lights of Oulu on the horizon

Our first stop was a frozen lake but instead of auroras we experienced something else. Very strange noises came from the lake every now and then. Scratching, hammering, all kind of weird noises came from the moving ice. At times it was far away and a moment later right beside us. Very mystic experience to say the least.. A day before it was +5 C and raining, so I guess some of the ice melted. During our night out it was -10 C and the ice on the lake reshaped itself.

After a while we made our way to another lake only to hear stronger noises. Staying there for many hours, we saw a lot of shooting stars but the camera was – of course – pointing into the wrong direction. With only little auroras showing up, I wanted to get back home. So we left at 2.45 am. In the forest we made one more stop to get a decent photo of the moonlit landscape. Right then auroras started to appear and for a few minutes the sky was glowing red! I was so happy we stopped one more time.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

First auroas of the night around 3.15am

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Red auroras!

Hungry for more auroras, I found some energy left in me and stayed longer than planned.. again. My last photo of the night was well past moonset and had a Geminid with auroras in it. It was perfect time to go home and get some needed sleep 🙂

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Geminid shooting star and auroras behind the trees.

4 responses to “Make a wish – aurora adventure with shooting stars

  1. Hi Thomas 🙂 I also tried several times to take some long exposures of the night sky, actually only 30seconds, I’ll have to buy a remote to leave the camera on longer. I’m having trouble though with the focus. From your experience is it better to focus on a still object and having the night sky in the background? Cause when I turn the camera upwards to the sky, switch to manual focus and rotate the focus ring to what I think it’s infinite..but someway the image is still a bit blury. Or is it that at 30seconds there is a movement in the position of the stars?..

    • Hi Klaudia, if you like to have the focus on the stars, you may try to use live-view, if you camera has that. Then focus through that on a bright star like Jupiter, use manual focus! If not you can point a torch to an object some 8m away and use the auto focus.
      You’re right about the stars movement. there is a rule called the 500 rule. Divide 500 by your focal length. The result will give you the max exposure time in seconds before star trails will show.
      A remote would be good but also delayed exposure (like for a self portrait) can be used if you don’t want to touch your camera.
      I wrote about this and more in my aurora guide part VI: photographing auroras. Here is the link, perhaps it’s worth to look through that 🙂

      • Thank you so very much for all the tips! I will definetly have a look at your guide 😉 I really appreciate the time you took to write me all of these things, it’s nice to see that people share their knowledge. I will also keep trying and take in consideration your advices 😉 Thank you once more!

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