Auroral display

Northern lights from the Noorderlicht

One of the things the highest on the wish list of people who joined on this expedition (including the guide…), was seeing the Aurora borealis. As you can read here and here, I’ve made two trips in recent years which were especially aimed at seeing the northern lights, with mixed success. I knew that this time we were actually a bit too far north, as Spitsbergen is normally within the Auroral oval. However, we’re close enough to have a good chance of seeing some…

On the second night, we hit the jackpot. The first night was overcast, but during the second evening, the skies cleared. Halfway my lecture, the bell rang. This meant a quick end to the lecture and everybody rushing outside… …to be a bit disappointed as not much was to be seen. But this changed rapidly. We were treated on a very spectacular light show for about an hour and a half. While in the beginning, it was difficult to see the aurora at all, later on, different colours could be seen (though mainly green) and even the movement was visible.

Taking pictures of the aurora from a moving ship is very difficult of course. This picture was taken with a shutter speed of 8 seconds, even when you use a tripod, the Aurora, horizon and stars will have moved due to the motion of the ship. This is why I deliberately put a part of the ship in the image. First of all as the name of the ship is Noorderlicht, Dutch for Northern Lights, so it is a nice combination. But this way, I also made sure at least something did not have motion blur, as the ship made the same movement as the camera.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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