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How to See the Northern Lights From Your Home

The Northern lights are an enchanting natural phenomenon that can only be observed at night. While the best places to view them are in the Arctic regions, if you can’t make it there, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this captivating display from home.

Lights are forms of electromagnetic radiation accelerated by solar winds. Charged particles from the sun collide with gas in Earth’s atmosphere, producing vibrant ripples of color.

Though stunning in beauty, dancing lights have long been associated with myths and legends. The Vikings believed the dancing lights to be souls of war-dead being transported to Valhalla on their journey into eternity. On the other hand, Yupik peoples saw them as omens of death or an indication that an enemy would soon arrive.

Though much remains unknown about the northern lights, we do know they’re caused by electrons traveling at speeds of 45 million miles an hour through the solar wind. When these particles hit Earth’s atmosphere due to Earth’s magnetic field, they become accelerated and emit light as they dance along in waves of energy.

They typically appear in the skies above latitudes 60 to 75 degrees north, though they can also be observed at lower latitudes. Most likely to be observed within the auroral oval – consisting of Iceland, northern parts of Sweden, Finland, Norway, Russia, Canada and Alaska – which encompasses all four Nordic countries as well as parts of northernmost Scandinavia and Finland.

The best time to view the Northern Lights is during winter when they are most active, though they can be observed all year long. Unfortunately, during the summer months clouds tend to cover them up more easily which makes spotting them harder.

Sites and apps that can help determine whether the northern lights will be visible in your area. They also offer advice on photographing them, including tips for adjusting your camera’s settings accordingly.

A quality camera is essential for photographing the northern lights, as it allows for long exposures that your phone won’t allow. To get the best shots possible, keep your camera as still as possible during each shot and ensure it’s mounted on a tripod.

Accurately dialing in the shutter speed for your photos is essential to avoid star trails or blurry images. It depends on the conditions and what you wish to capture with your images, but as a general guideline you should use about 15 seconds for optimal results.

If the northern lights are moving quickly, a faster shutter speed is necessary; on the other hand, if they are slowly moving, then a slower shutter speed can produce smoother images.

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you’ll be able to capture stunning photographs like those below! But be prepared for some hard work as these subjects can be tricky to capture.

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