Dreams in green – in a February night

Usually I’m looking for clear skies to see the most of auroras, the shapes, the movement and colors. Clouds make the sky not only interesting but creates a challenge. Are the clouds thin enough? Are there breaks in the clouds? Do the clouds move fast? Lot’s of questions and often all answers are No’s. When all comes together though, the clouds can be THE magic ingredient.

In that February night I had exactly that situation. Great aurora forecast but cloudy. Well, almost. On the horizon was a small gap in the clouds, that’s where you see the strong bright green. I explored the area and found this snowtree ‘sculpture’. It totally fascinated me and I tried many angles to get the best photo. The difficult part was to preserve the untouched snow. And here is the final result.

Enjoy your week!

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Ice suprise

The past two weeks have been supercrazy with lots of photo shootings. For last night I planned to write a blog post but once again I had to take me camera out. This time I recorded some videos and created this short documentary. Probably the first time you see me and hear my voice, don’t be shocked 😉 Photos will follow at some point. Good night my friends 🙂

Breaking free

Spring is just around the corner as most parts of the Gulf of Bothnia are ice-free. On the shore, the ice floats are breaking apart and melt quickly. The long frozen soil is getting softer and new life will rise out of it, breaking free from a long hibernation. Truly a time of change is upon us.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

The things they did not see..

My recent visit to the Gulf of Bothnia as very windy. While that meant that the cold was creeping into my clothing much faster than usually, if also made those huge fields of clouds pass quicker. Waiting for the skies to clear proved to be exiting as everytime it was a surprise what kind of auroras were up there waiting to be seen.

Without clouds, light polution of street lamps, etc, are not a big issue but with thick clouds it is sometimes a nightmare. Those darn orange clouds.. Lots and lots of city lights from Oulu lit up the sky. But that purple aurora beam was too beautiful and so I took this photo anyway.

Back home, I looked at the full screen version and started to feel differently about it. Now, it seems to me that those people under the cloud cover live in their own small world, not knowing what’s really happening out there. While I was lucky to see much more from where I was standing. All those secrets behind that low-hanging orange ceiling. If they would only know…

Copyright: Thomas Kast

This photo works a lot better in larger view, so go ahead and click on it.


Goodbye winter, hello summer

Just after I wrote the post about twilights, last night I was able catch a season-changing photo which fits right into the brighter nights. For me there is no better way to show that change than with a nightscape photo:

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Imagine that roughly a week ago, here the Gulf of Bothnia was still completely frozen, allowing people to ski, walk or snowmobile on it! Last night almost all was free of ice, powerful waves crashing on the rocks. It felt like life was pumped back into a frozen world. Only the boat marina ‘bay’ (on the left side) had still a thick layer of ice. If you look closely on the right side somewhere near the horizon, there are wobbly line from ice floes drifting in the waves. And the orange color on the horizon is the afterglow from the sunset, being visible for many hours.

I really love this time of season change where a photo can capture so many different aspects. Although I’m honestly a tiny bit sad to say goodbye winter..

When the darkness fades away

Between each day and night are three phases of twilight. The astronomical, nautical and – the brightest – civil twilight. Wait a minute, not every night. Ok, let me stop right there. That isn’t true for all places on our planet. Let’s take Oulu (surprise, surpise) for example, located at 65°N, summer nights are bright as daylight. The twilight phases I mentioned above become more and more important.

Copyright: Thomas Kast
Astronomical twilight:
Being the darkest twilight zone, the sun is between 12° and 18° below the horizon. While faint stars and other objects are then tricky to observe, auroras are easily visible. The first day without proper night (pitch black that is) here in Oulu was actually yesterday, April 9th, 2015. Astronomical twilight is then the darkest phase for about two weeks.

Nautical twilight:
That’s when the sun is between 6° and 12° below. It is bright enough to see the horizon. Auroras are partly visible then; more exact: the sun needs to be around 10° below or lower. Going towards summer here in Oulu, on May 17th will be no more nautical twilight.

Civil twilight:
That’s right, the sun is then between 0° and 6° below. Outdoors it’s bright enough for almost anything, no point to talk auroras. In Oulu these are our brightest nights and we have about 73 of them.

Going further North, the nights will be brighter and brighter. Breaking through the Arctic Circle, the sun will be visible throughout the night – unless the horizon is covered by mountains, etc.

Ok, ok, enough with the numbers 🙂 If you are interested in your local twilights, head over to www.timeanddate.com , that’s what I did.

Last aurora season I caught the last ones on April 25th at 1.30am. As you can see with the bright skies towards North it was very very faint. This year I’ll problably sleep 🙂

Copyright: Thomas Kast