The Northern Lights Over Greenland

This is the reason I traveled thousands of miles to Greenland during arctic winter - to see the aurora borealis (northern lights). If I can humblebrag for a moment, this is probably a better photo than most tourists get, as even those with dSLRs were struggling to figure out how to shoot and have anything show up. By my standards though, this is pretty much a huge letdown. It's hugely disappointing as all I see are flaws, but I hope to improve my astrophotography skills so that the next opportunity I get will produce better results.

What many people might not realize is that the sun has an 11 year solar cycle, which influences the strength of the northern lights. You can Google the science if you're interested, but basically every 11 years the northern lights are at their strongest, and they generally remain strong for a couple years afterwards.

This past winter was the 11 year solar maximum, thus the raison d'ĂȘtre for me to travel to Greenland in the first place. I often get asked, "Why Greenland?" Well that's easy, Kangerlussauq has something like a 99% chance of success at seeing the northern lights as it has clear skies roughly 300 days a year - which, is also why the US selected it as a place to build an airbase during WWII.

Seeing the northern lights was definitely a dream come true, but I can't help feel a little sad that they weren't quite what I expected. I was only in Kangerlussauq for a couple nights as there is damn near absolutely nothing to do there during the day, and while I did indeed see the lights, they were pretty weak at the time. The rest of my trip while outside of Kangerlussauq was cloudy every night and so there was no chance to see the lights. I think this means, that I need to go on another northern lights trip soon.

A 30-second exposure of my first time seeing the beauty of the Aurora Borealis.