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How Hard Is It to Chase the Northern Lights?

And stories of love, music, and adventure.

Three days ago, Australian landscape and astrophotographer Dale Sharp proposed to his girlfriend Karlie Russell while in the midst of a beautiful display of Aurora Borealis lights in Lofoten, Norway.

Lofoten, Norway… ______________________________________ WE’RE ENGAGED! What a better way to propose than in the heart of the Arctic Circle under the Northern Lights. It’s taken a few years to plan but I always had this moment in mind & it seemed fitting as we are both landscape photographers who share a passion for photographing the aurora. Originally I was going to propose in Iceland last year but unfortunately Karlie decided to discard my secretly stashed ring (yes, that actually happened 😂 lol, we were trying to cut weight on a connecting flight from the Faroe Islands). Fortunately though my plan worked & tonight the aurora was firing in one of the most incredible displays of colour we have ever seen. I tricked Karlie into believing we were shooting a selfie & used a torch to light us up for the image. Much to her shock, it wasn’t any normal selfie, and much to my shock, she said yes! 😝 This is a single image that was taken during the proposal. And now we may not have any of our own images up hanging on our walls at home…we may however, make an exception for this one. 💍 Dale & Karlie

A post shared by Dale & Karlie | Gold Coast 🇦🇺 (@dkphotographyau) on

This perfectly timed photo is the the result of the couple tirelessly chasing the Northern Lights. Around 30 times actually, according to Daily Mail.

But how hard is it to chase these lights?

Pretty damn hard.

Northern Lights aren’t predictable. Geomagnetic activity can be predicted and can act as a rough guide for your trip but it doesn’t necessarily mean the lights will be visible at that time.

An article in by Nigel Tisdall in The Telegraph, briefly listed the expenses you will be paying for in this trip. This includes a travel agency specialized for chasing the lights, accommodation, and flights. The cost can range from £769 – £2070 (P46,000 – P126,000).

No, you can’t just wait for the Northern Lights here in Manila. This phenomenon is only visible in the northern and southern countries because they are nearer to the poles.

Up in the north, the lights may seem like they’re not moving, and are more desaturated in real life than expected. The experience though, especially from a person living near the equator, would be breathtaking.

The lights make their way from Northern America to different parts of Europe like Finland, Iceland, and Norway. Some people have even devoted their lives to chasing the Aurora Borealis.

In music

Whenever I talk about the Northern Lights, I always share one particular video. This is the Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, one of my favorite choral composers of all time. In this TEDx talk, he shares his story about catching a glimpse of the lights on time and ended up chasing them all the way up to Tromsø, Norway.

The forecast was weak but he was still determined to drive out of Tromsø, outside civilization, and into the white wilderness. With his rental car and a professional camera he only borrowed, he was able to find and take photos of such a magical moment. For 8 hours, he laid in the snow.

Through this arduous journey, Ešenvalds was inspired to write a multimedia symphony about this ‘largest optical phenomenon in the Earth’s upper atmosphere’.

Watch it here:

Ešenvalds also tells us the various stories tribes in the north used to explain the Northern Lights with. For some, It is a giant fox jumping from one mountain to another, with its big tail throwing snow up in the sky. For others, a way for dead souls to enter the heavens. And from a Latvian folk song, the lights are souls of dead soldiers up in the sky fighting a battle.

The Northern Lights are difficult to reach, and they cost a lot too, But after hearing tales from different people, tribes, writers, composers, I think might just be able to witness all their stories the moment I start chasing.

Abby

Loves the sunrise but wakes up late. Also uses too many adjectives.

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