I’ve chased the Northern Lights in the UK for a while now. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity after work to make a last-minute dash to Scotland in the hope of seeing the lights. A high level alert had been issued and in one driving stint I made it to Edinburgh but was too tired to drive any further and could only see a faint green glow in the distance. I’m planning to head to Scotland during the Christmas period this year for a few days to try again.
One of the main reasons I chose to come to Iceland was to see the Aurora, as elusive as it is. I had watched reports for a month or so before I left and was feeling confident that I was in with a chance of seeing them. I just needed to be in the right place at the right time.
I was on the road to Seyðisfjörður (say-dis-fyour-door), I’d been traveling for most of the day and it was now dark. I started to rise up into the eastern mountain region, but with it being dark, I had no idea if there were any nice views!
At some point about half way up, there was a sign stating that a gravel road was ahead, this could get interesting! The road surface wasn’t too bad, I could travel at about 50kmh. There are reflective markers at the sides of the road to show the way, but there’s nothing to see on either side past them.
I kept looking at the sky to see if I could see anything, and then, I could make out a thin wispy cloud, but it had a greenish tint! or did it? It was faint, to faint to really make anything out so I stopped and got out to look.
Yes! It was the Aurora, I could barely see it but it was there. Was this how it looked in real life? Was it so faint as to barely notice it? How did the photos I’d seen show them up so well? Long shutter exposure? Could that be all it was??
I needed to relax a bit and wait. I travelled a few more kilometres to see if a lay-by, or any kind of side road would appear to get me off this dark gravel road. I passed nothing.
I made a decision just to stop at the side of the dark, narrow, unlit, gravel road. There were hardly any other cars on the road so I figured it worth the risk. There was enough room for other cars to get past, just as long as they saw me first!
I set up my camera and tripod, and stood and waited….. It got cold, I got cold, I got back in the car and ran the engine with the heater on.
After around 45 minutes, the sky started to brighten, the wispy cloud became denser, the Aurora had started!!!
They may not seem like the most impressive or most spectacular images of the Aurora, it was my first time however, and I was happy.
Bucket List; See the Northern Lights – Tick!!