Stunning Finnish aurora time lapse

By Phil Plait | September 28, 2011 4:27 pm

Via Universe Today (and Fraser Cain’s Google+ stream) I saw this astonishing video of the aurora borealis as seen from Finnish Lapland.

[Make sure you set it to HD and make it full screen.]

Wow! That’s amazing. Did you catch the Andromeda Galaxy making an appearance at 1:25 in, at the middle left of the screen? Maybe you missed it because of THE GINORMOUSLY BRIGHT AND GORGEOUS AURORAE.


As a travel ad, this works pretty well (it was made by Flatlight Films, a Finnish company). Living in Boulder, I’m used to the cold, but we always seem to just miss being far enough north to see the light show. And we still have a couple of years before we even reach the peak of solar activity, so there’ll be plenty of chances to catch more.

[P.S. If you’re on G+, follow Fraser. He’s good people.]

Related posts:

Southern lights greet ISS and Atlantis
Wyoming skies
Another jaw-dropping time lapse video: Tempest
Time lapse: Journey Through Canyons
Down under Milky Way time lapse
Alps lapse

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (24)

  1. Cindy

    That was great, but all I could think of was
    “Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër?
    See the løveli lakes
    The wøndërful telephøne system
    And mäni interesting furry animals
    The Characters and incidents portrayed and the names used are fictitious
    and any similarity to the names, characters, or history of any person is
    entirely accidental and unintentional.
    Including the majestik møøse
    A Møøse once bit my sister… ”

    (For those of you who are confused, watch Monty Python’s The Holy Grail.)

  2. Messier Tidy Upper

    Dancing auroral fires ignite emotions
    Awe and wonder.
    Invisible particles and fields made plain unto our eyes
    The cosmic wonder brought to Earth
    The sky lit up
    So very full of stars
    And so much more.

    Magnificent. Thankyou BA & Flatlight Films. :-)

    (Why “flat” light films though I wonder given the light here of aurorae, sky, stars, reflection, aircraft and Moon is so deep and rich and multi-faceted?)

    I’d love to go to Finland one day money permitting. Love to see volcanoes and glaciers and fijords. This clip certainly remidns me of that. Alas for Finland though, Iceland would be preferred by me because that island also offers volcanoes as well – and so does New Zealand which is, for me, much closer.* Still, if I ever get the chance to go to Finland I would jump at that chance in a heartbeat. :-)


    * Of course, Finland does offer more than Iceland motorsport~wise with Keke Rosberg who won the first F1 race I ever saw, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen and all their rally stars. Now if only they had a cricket team and oval or two .. 😉

  3. Musical Lottie

    If it’s any consolation, I’m further north than you (Bedfordshire, England) and we never seem to see aurorae either – our neighbouring county apparently* saw some caused by Saturday’s solar flare, but it was too cloudy here to see anything. (Quite frankly I’m surprised they did, because on the aurora map it didn’t reach anywhere near as far south on this side of the globe as on your side.)

    *according to the article linked to by Jeri Ryan

    Oh well, as you say, plenty more chances :)

  4. Charlie Foxtrot

    I was hoping to see the southern aurora here in Melbourne after the heads up here earlier this week – but cloudy weather and the fact I can’t get away from the city has sunk that idea.
    (Plus I was worried about being bitten by a Moose…)

    on a side note… am I missing something, or is this article going for a ‘worst ever’ award?

  5. John Sandlin


    I’m curious just close to what the eyes see (other than the time lapse nature that makes it super fast)? Growing up in the sub-Great White North (just this side of Canada, the official Great White North) I’ve see the Aurora a few times. Never so intense (and usually just the shades of green).

    Way cool.


  6. Richard

    My bags are packed!

    I have never seen an Aurora. Can anyone tell me how quickly these curtains of light move, shimmer, and change color? If anyone could tell me (approximately) what the elapsed time would have been for a segment of this video, that would answer my question. Or by what factor was time sped up in the video? Somebody who knows the rate of (apparent) rotation of the stars might be able to estimate this, or one of the lucky ones who has seen such displays.

    Thanks in advance.

  7. Stuart Greig

    To #3 Musical Lottie, we saw the aurora here on Monday night (just north of Oslo) but I was spaeaking to a friend on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland and he saw them as well so it only needs to be a bit further south for you to see them. I saw them once just outside of Inverness as well.

  8. Orlando

    Phil, since I know you like timelapses, here you are two of them, and one of them with music from Vangelis!. Maybe you’ll enjoy them!

  9. Charlie Foxtrot

    (oh! Didn’t clarify my aside before) I think the article may be trying to explain some interesting new research, but makes it sound like the researchers have never heard of gravitational lensing before? So what are they proving?

  10. RwFlynn

    Wow! Stunning is right! Glad I have people on facebook that will appreciate this. :)

    Although I wish they were on G+ so I could have a reason to post it there too.

  11. Patrick

    I moved to Sweden and have been waiting to see one. Unfortunately it was cloudy at night the past couple of storms. I am just waiting to hear about the next incoming storm, and head up north of the arctic circle.

  12. #4 and 8 Charlie Foxtrot:
    It’s difficult to tell what the researchers are proving, because the author of the article clearly hasn’t a clue what he’s writing about!
    “Light from the Sun bent by the gravity of Mercury” – HUH????????!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m guessing that this idiot is getting confused between the precession of the perihelion of Mercury, which was correctly predicted by General Relativity, and the bending of light from distant stars by the Sun’s gravity, as observed by Eddington during a total solar eclipse.

  13. Megan McC

    I’ve seen the Aurora from my hometown in Scotland a few times. This is about the best video I’ve seen of it. Very difficult with a camera to capture the detail of the vast curtain of glowing columns sweeping back and forth across the sky. Lovely.

  14. JupiterIsBig

    I saw a faint green glow in the northern sky at this time of year in Norway once – I wish I was there now instead of in the light pollution of Sydney !

  15. Jon Hanford

    #4 and 8 Charlie Foxtrot; #13 Neil Haggath:

    I think some of the article was referring to (however poorly) the recent measurement of gravitational redshift from a study of galaxy clusters:

  16. Halinka

    I live in Denmark.
    Aurorae Borealis is also seen here,mostly in the North i.e. in Skagen.
    But yesterday’s night sky was also in very pretty colors in southern part of DK,on the island,where I live.
    The moving and changing colors were possibly not so intensive,like can be in Finland ,or Norway,but nevertheless very impressive.

    -Best Greetings-from DK-

  17. Zyggy

    Beautiful video.

    I got a distinct sense from that video of being on the top of a world. As if I was watching it from a great distance, but zoomed in very closely. Something in the way the sky was moving in relation to the ground, perhaps? I was very easily able to picture the solar particles interacting in patterns with our magnetic fields.

    Curious. And I have GOT to see that in person, in real-time someday.

  18. The only thing I dislike about aurora videos is that they always seem to be in time lapse… I wanna know what they look like in real time. :(

  19. Brian Too

    @6. Richard,

    The video is sped up by a factor of at least 10x and it could easily be more like 50x. Just take a look at the movement of the stars relative to the features on the horizon. Do you ever perceive the rotation of the Earth so easily?

    In terms of the speed of the display, think “majestic”, not “hyperactive”.

    Also the video shows aurora brighter than they usually appear, and the waves are unusually large in terms of their sky coverage. They must have filmed (or been primed to film) over many weeks and selected the best night.

    Most aurora in real life are green. You are getting a special treat when you start seeing some reds, blues, purples and such in there. I’ve never seen yellow in a display, ever.

  20. Beautiful video and nice to see Finland get this attention. I’m not sure though if the ‘volcanoes and glaciers and fijords’ are a joke as we don’t have any of those… :-) just a lot of lakes, no darkness at summers (and just it at winters) and a lot of snow.

    We visit Lapland about every Xmas and unfortunately even the green Northern lights are quite rare on non-cloudy evenings. (or maybe I’m too lazy to leave my MacBook Pro, books and the fireplace)


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