The report of the 2012 expedition to observe the Aurora Borealis, in Northern Norway
by Lorenzo Comolli

Between 24 February and 5 March 2012, some of my friends and I made a 10-nights expedition in the deep North, in Northern Norway, visiting Tromso and Lofoten islands. These lands are all above the Arctic circle and they are among the best European choices for the observation of Northern Lights, for many reasons. The landscapes are breathtaking, with rocky mountains down to the sea inside the countless fjords. In spite of the latitude, the average temperature is not so bad, and we were quite lucky to experience "only" a minimum of -5°C. The very high latitude - Tromso is at about 70° - allows the easy observation of the Northern Lights even when the activity is not particularly high, such as when we were there (unfortunately no huge Sun explosions for us).

The expedition members were Alessandro Gambaro, Alessandro Boletti, Silvia Garegnani, Barbara Meucci and me. The two Alessandros and me were armed of a total of 7 DSLR and about 10 tripods. We intended to take very long sequences of shots to show the aurorae motion, by means of time lapses. Thus we needed also a reliable and long lasting power source, so we rented three 12 V, 45 Ah, lead-acid batteries from the Mekonomen shop in Tromso.

My instrumentation was composed of:
  • 2 DSLR: a Canon 350D and a modified Canon 5D (Baader filter, not needed for aurorae), all with many good batteries
  • some lenses: Sigma 20 mm f/1.8, Canon 15 mm f/2.8 (thanks Giosuè), Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 (unfortunately broken the first day), Peleng 8 mm f/3.5, and a Sigma 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 for daylight photos
  • a homemade dolly for "special effects" in the time-lapses
  • 3 standard tripods, and 3 smaller ones.
  • a lot of accessories, to power the cameras, the dolly and the dew removers from 12 V, an inverter for recharging the batteries from the car (thanks Marco), a netbook PC, and a 1 TB hard disk for backup.
Unfortunately only a few of the 10 nighs were good: one was nearly perfect, two were usable, and other two had small holes in the clouds. Considering the always changing weather of those locations, that's not so bad. Quite different from my 2011 experience in Namibia, with 10 days and 10 night without a single cloud...

I've gathered a lot of images: 105 GB for 16484 shots! My friends had similar booties: Ale G, 99 GB x 14709 images, Ale B, 239 GB x 16039 images. Aurorae are very fast and required a little bit of shots! :-)

Here below you can find some of the results: aurorae images, a time lapse and diurnal images. I hope you'll enjoy. Let me know any feedback:
comolli@libero.it .

Hurtigruten, MS Lofoten ship in Tromso.

Aurorae images

Click on the image at left to look at some of my best images of aurorae borealis, or "Nordlys", as Norwegians name it.

Click on the image at left to look at a 7 minutes video that shows how fast and incredible are the aurorae. Most of the videos have a speed of about 40x.
Options: Youtube - MP4 H264
Daytime images

Click on the image at left to open the Picasa album with 239 shots of the expedition.

Links to aurorae hunters:

Helpful links for self organizing an expedition (best months: January to mid March):

HTML Editing and Publishing by Lorenzo Comolli. Email me at comolli@libero.it.
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