The report of the 2013 expedition to observe the Aurora Borealis, in Northern Norway
by Lorenzo Comolli

Between 9 and 15 October 2013 I've participated to an expedition in Alta, Norway organized by my astronomical group, GAT - Gruppo Astronomico Tradatese. This is my second trip to Norway (see Norway 2012), and I'm still enchanted by the fantastic motions and shapes of the Northern Lights. Unfortunately this expedition was plagued by very bad weather, with 0 of 6 nights with a clear sky. So to get a result we needed to stay up all the nights, and, while driving along the roads of the fjords near Alta, we searched for small and temporary holes in the clouds. Usually the weather was rain, horizontal rain, and then snow, horizontal snow, snow storm, and so on! And so it was also when I imaged in the clear holes... the DSLR cameras and lenses were always completely wet.

My instrumentation was composed of:
  • 3 DSLR: Canon 60D, Canon 5D (Baader filter) and Canon 350D
  • Lenses for aurorae: Samyang 14 mm f/2.8, Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8, Sigma 20 mm f/1.8, plus other ones for daylight imaging
  • A homemade dolly and a panning system for "special effects" in the time-lapses, unfortunately never used because of bad weather
  • 3 standard tripods, and 3 smaller ones.
  • A lot of accessories, to power the cameras, the dolly and the dew removers, a netbook PC, and a 1 TB hard disk for backup.
Nevertheless I've gathered a lot of images: 86 GB for 4779 shots! Aurorae are very fast and required a little bit of shots! Large megapixel sensors such as 60D worsen the disk cost :-)

Here below you can find some of the results: aurorae images and diurnal images. I hope you'll enjoy. Let me know any feedback: .

Hurtigruten, MS Nordlys ship in Oksfjord

Aurorae images

Click on the image at left to look at some of my Northern Lights images, unfortunately the best shows were always behind the clouds.

Recommended: 1080p, full screen, audio on.
Northern lights behind the clouds are the most difficult test for amateur astronomers to pass; but with patience and perseverance we were able to get the show even in a nightmare weather, with 99% cloud cover, rain, rain storms, snow, snow storms... This video joins a week of timelapses in two minutes. Enjoy, and let me know your comments.

Music: Rising Sun, by Marco Maggiore
Thanks for the permission to use such a great soundtrack!
Listen full track on Marco's YT channel
Daytime images

Click on the image at left to open the Picasa album with 91 shots of the expedition.
Magnetometer activity

Here is an archive of the magnetometer activity registered by Tromso Geophysical Observatory. Many of the best images were obtained during the last night, very active.

For a list of useful links for visiting Northern Norway, please refer to Norway 2012 page.

HTML Editing and Publishing by Lorenzo Comolli. Email me at
Back to Main Page