5 Facts No One Tells You About The Northern Lights

There is no denying that seeing the Northern Lights is on most peoples bucket lists. You’ve probably seen a million photos of them in bright colours and videos of them dancing across the night sky. They are incredible and spectacular, but there are lots of facts no one tells you about the Northern Lights!

[Please note that photos have been provided by the incredible Jeroen as mine are shocking!]

Here’s My 5 Facts No One Tells You About The Northern Lights

1. Unpredictable and elusive

The Northern Lights is exactly that, it’s unpredictable and elusive. There’s no guarantee that you will see them and you’ll have to put in a lot of effort and time to find them. But, oh my, are they worth it! 

One Other Tip: Just because the tour is running, doesn’t mean that you will see the Northern Lights. Most companies will let you rebook if you don’t see them but there’s no guarantee that you will see them that night either. Why? See point one!

What no one tells you when they post their stunning shots and videos with these bold moving streamers of colour is either the trouble they went to or the luck they had in finding the right spot at the right time. 

Northern lights over the lake Iceland

2. They come in a range of different colours

All of those neon green and bright pink photos that have sucked you in, well… hate to break it to you, but the Northern Lights don’t always look like that. They come in a range of colours, most commonly in greens and pinks, but you can also find shades of yellow, red, blue and purple.

What no one tells you is that they also come in lighter shades such as grey and white. Sometimes it literally looks like a whispy cloud floating past and moving slightly unnaturally for a cloud.

Northern lights over the lake Iceland

3. You need the right camera equipment to take good photos of them

I didn’t realise this prior to our trip. We turned up rather naively on our Northern Lights Hunt and we arrived in the middle of no where and all of these seasoned pros pulled out their tripods and their fancy cameras, set their long exposure timings and stood back. All we could see was white whispy clouds (see point 2) and they were reeling off picture after picture of these bright green dancing Northern Lights that the naked eye couldn’t even see.

After a quick Google Search, we learnt our lesson, downloaded a couple of crap apps and Jack used me as a tripod for his iPhone. It was very amusing, but our photos are shocking.

What no one tells you is that the naked eye struggles to detect the range of colours they come in in full and they will more often than not just be found in greys and whites. 

Northern lights at the aeroplane crash site Iceland

4. The weather changes very quickly

Even if everything appears to be lined up, the skies are clear and it is dark and you are stood in the middle of no where. There is still no guarantee that you will actually see them!

There are websites and indicators you can check which measure the KP-Index and help you predict whether you have a good chance of seeing them, but they change as often as the weather (which is often).

What no one tells you is that the weather one minute seems just right, but by the time you’ve reached your destination, the clouds have arrived and the Northern Lights are no where to be found. 

Northern lights over the mountains Iceland

5. You will get VERY cold looking for the Northern Lights

Where you can find the Northern Lights it is cold! Very cold. You won’t be able to properly feel your feet, your nose will run, the tips of your fingers will tingle. My big big tip is make sure you’re wearing lots of layers, thick socks and proper boots and a thick coat.

What no one tells you is that it’s hard, long, cold work trying to find the Northern Lights. You’re not always guaranteed to see them, but you’ll still convince yourself they’ll arrive and stand in the cold for hours. 

Northern lights above a building in Iceland

Just be warned! Once you do see them, you will want to see them again and again. 



Here’s a couple of other fun facts!

What are the Northern Lights? What causes the Northern Lights?

The Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights is created when electrically charged particles from the sun collide.

Where can you see the Northern Lights?

In the North… Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

You’ll find the Northern Lights in the northern parts Canada, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Scotland and Russia.

Did you know that there are Southern Lights too?

They are actually called the Aurora Australis and can be found primarily in Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere. The can also be seen in Chile, New Zealand and Australia.

Now I know you’re all dying to know why I haven’t used my own photography for this post, well here’s why!

I can hear you laughing!

Want to know more about the amazing Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove? Check out his Instagram & website where you can see more of his incredible photography.

He’s a self-taught photographer mainly focusing on landscape photography. In addition he also cherishes a not-so-secret love for Iceland having moved there in 2016. He is now a tour guide in the incredible country, culminating in the ideal combination.


 

Have you seen the Northern Lights?

Have I missed anything off my list that you learnt the hard way?

Let me know in the comments below!

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12 Replies to “5 Facts No One Tells You About The Northern Lights”

  1. These photos are so fabulous. The tips are great. Hopefully one day I will need to use them.

    1. They’re amazing aren’t they! Thanks, I hope you get to see them too!

  2. So interesting! I never knew that the naked eye can’t make out all of the range of colors at times. Great read!

    1. Thanks. Neither did we until we were stood in a field looking at what we thought was a cloud. Was very embarrassing!

  3. I had no idea they were so tricky to catch! It has always been a dream of mine to see them one day, but you would think from all of the beautiful pictures out there that they’re easy to stumble upon if you’re in the right location! Updating my bucket list to read something more like “see the northern lights but also research proper camera equipment and very warm gear before going” haha. great read!

    1. Oh no! Nothing about them is easy! They appear only when they fancy it.
      Like the update, good luck!

  4. willsavefortravel says: Reply

    we saw them in Iceland a few years ago! We also made the camera mistake but luckily we were on a tour that took photos and posted them on their Facebook page so I could save those ones! haha

    1. You laughed at my photo didn’t you! I wish we had that luxury.

  5. I agree that they’re elusive! I’ve been waiting for these auroras every night here in Manitoba, but I’ve never seen them. Haha.

    1. Have they appeared yet?

  6. Wow! Never would have thought! I definitely would love to see the northern lights but I will put more research into it before I go that’s for sure.

    1. I wish I had!

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