January's aurorae from way far north

By Phil Plait | March 28, 2012 11:00 am

Troms, Norway is pretty far north — at a latitude of 70°, it’s above the Arctic Circle, and in January the Sun never rises. That might sound forbidding, but this video by Ville Kröger of the aurorae taken in January during the big solar storms might change your mind:

What breathtaking scenery! The mountains look wonderful, and I imagine it’s a lovely place to visit… in the spring, or in the winter to see the northern lights. Funny — it gets colder here in Boulder on average than it does there. Latitude isn’t everything; sea currents make a big difference as well.

But of course, we don’t get the light show they do. Someday I’ll get to see one of these. Sigh.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: aurora, Norway

Comments (14)

  1. Number 6

    Stunning! Must be awe-inspring in person….Thanks!

  2. Alexf

    “Above” the Arctic Circle? I’m sure you meant North. (grin)
    Very nice!

  3. Zyggy

    Love the video, as always. I appreciate your sharing of these things. Oddly, the thing that struck me the most about this particular one was the woman’s voice.

    It is unusually clear and very pretty. It almost reminds me of ….forgive me ….Karen Carpenter. (I am not generally a fan of the Carpenters’ music, but I do like her voice.) Just very natural. Now I have to go find out more about Lasswell.

  4. Pete Jackson

    Love the way the constellations are close to circumpolar with very slow approaches to the horizon.

    The end of the video must be showing high noon at 70 degrees north in January – just a bit of twilight!

    Great video, BA.

  5. MadScientist

    If you want a great view from the USA, just fly to UP Michigan and sit out on in the freezing wind on the shores of Lake Superior. I wouldn’t go to Tromso unless you also wanted a chance to spot reindeer or polar bears – not only is it far from anywhere, it’s a hellishly expensive place to be.

  6. David

    FWIW, Tromsø is the home of Geir Jenssen, an ambient electronic musician who performs under the name “Biosphere”. His music is the perfect accompaniment to a night of observing (esp. his masterpiece album “Substrata”).

  7. Tromsø is indeed the place to be for (almost) guaranteed aurora fun, when the weather is clear – was there twice recently, in the comfort of a ship, and got things to see like http://skyweek.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/das-aurora-spektakel-der-kong-harald-vom-20-3

  8. Naomi

    We’re going there next year! Summer, granted, but the midnight sun will be pretty amazing even if we don’t see any aurorae. (Actually, we’re going even further north – to Longyearbyen!)

  9. Medusa

    I saw a big red aurora in Boulder several years ago. Sometime in the early 2000’s.

    I had no idea what it was at the time, because I knew auroras don’t usually appear that far south. I thought it was aliens!

  10. Jay Fox

    I was in Iceland for a year in the military. Ocean currents indeed kept it far warmer than Michigan. I got to view the auroras on several occasions. Well worth the effort to travel and see, military or not.

  11. Andy I

    I don’t think this video is a very good presentation of the northern lights. I don’t get to seem them often, but there are 2 things that I remember from when I did:

    1) How they flow like a curtain or perhaps silk fabric. They are very graceful and generally slow. When you do a time-lapse video like this you really lose that. These are moving too fast.

    2) How absolutely quiet they are. It’s kind of spooky how there is a huge moving light snow going on overhead such that your brain thinks there should be huge sound. Yet they are absolutely quiet. Very unusual to experience. You lose it here with the accompanying music.

  12. beer case

    #5 MadScientist:

    No polar bears in Tromsø I’m afraid. You’re probably thinking about Svalbard, also part of Norway, but it’s an island at least 700km further north.

  13. Ian

    So Phil has seen, in person, just as many auroral displays as I have?

    Now I don’t feel so bad.

    No, wait, yes I do. If I die before I see the aurora, I will die a very cranky person.

  14. Messier Tidy Upper

    Excellent clip. Thanks. :-)

    Very minor nitpick over the title “January lights at Troms” because these aren’t limited to January or any specific month and whilst the aurora borealis are poetically dubbed the “northern lights” the mere term ‘lights’ is open to interpreation more than I’d personally like – I’d have preferred the word aurora or at least northern lights in January or something myself. But as noted that’s just a very minor & pedantic nitpick.

    I’ve also got a question too – there’s a series of about five or so blue flashes at the 47 second to 50 sec mark just to the far right lower hand corner – does anyone know what those are? Camera flashes? Lightning? Torch light or from ships or something else?

    Beautiful scenery and auroral display anyhow. Just wonder when we’ll see one of these posted here from Antartica?!


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