Runaway Photo: The Day I Saw the Northern Lights

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Runaway Photo: The Day I Saw the Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in Iceland

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in Iceland

The Day I Saw the Aurora Borealis 

 

There was a rumor around the hostel, “Tuesday will be the day for the northern lights!” I carefully watched the aurora forecast to see if that was true. I came to Iceland again, despite the cold weather, for two reasons: enjoying the hot pools and catching the northern lights. The latter one was the biggest dream for my entire life ever since I got to know what astronomy was. After I landed in Reykjavik on 10th, spent a few days without any big news but I patiently waited. I knew this was the closest chance I’ve ever gotten, but I didn’t want to be disappointed too big at the end. After all, we humans can’t fight the mother nature.

 

On Tuesday afternoon, we drove through rain and wind in southwest Iceland. The forecast said the northern lights would be active tonight but the weather wasn’t ideal. To catch the northern lights, three conditions have to be perfect: crispy and cold winter sky, clear and calm weather, and active solar wind. Solar wind was out there already, it was a cold winter night alright, but weather was the question.

 

At night, the sky was getting clear. We decided to drove a car outside of Reykjavik. Only a few minutes after, I saw a smudge in the sky. ‘Clouds?’ It was crossing the entire sky while dancing and moving around. It was definitely not a cloud, it was the northern lights! Among the bright city lights, the nature’s wonder didn’t quiet it down.

 

I sticked my head out to the window, screaming and wowing the whole time. We found a dark-enough spot to pull over. I ran out from the car, set my camera down on the ground (because I didn’t have a tripod) and fixed my eye to the most amazing nature show I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t believe.

 

I’m watching the northern lights!

 

When all of my friends decorated their bedroom wall with the poster of pop stars, my room was filled with photos of solar system, galaxies, deep space and aurora (northern lights). Yes, I was a nerdy kid. Catching the aurora was the biggest astronomical dream I’ve ever had ever since, and it finally happened this week. I watched the northern lights!

 

It was green and purple in the photos, but it actually looked like unnatural clouds. The movement was fascinating. The ones above our head were the most dramatic. Because we were looking at the vertical side of this magnetic field, it was thick and active. It felt like I was looking at a shower head when the water was on. The lights came and disappeared quite quickly. If we were at a darker place, we would’ve see much dramatic view but it was good enough for all of us. For one night, we saw the classic movement of the northern lights, at least for me. It looked just like the poster photos I had. Squirmy near the horizon, curtain shape, making shapes around the constellations… It was dreamy. Nature is wonderful. I may come back to Iceland every winter.

Wouldn’t you?

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland near horizon (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis near the north pole (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Enjoying Northern Lights in Iceland

Aurora Borealis in Iceland (Northern lights)

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

41 Comments

  1. coolnewz says:

    great! I guess I’ve seen this once while I was on a plane, but I’m not sure. I can imagine it is fascinating to see what some charges and a magnetic field are capable of. (that was real “wiseness” 🙂 )

  2. Juno, this looks absolutely stunning! You’re so lucky to have caught the lights. I was doing a bit of reading on where to go to see them, and basically everything said that they’re unpredictable and that there’s never any guarantee of a sighting. I’m glad your dream came true 🙂

  3. Giulia says:

    You made me dream so much with these photos and post! Me and my mom saw the pics and decided are going to Iceland by the end of the winter. Will book the trip shortly.
    And if you decide to go back every winter (which could be my case too!) well we can always go together next time! Me and you under northern lights… can you imagine? 🙂

    • Juno says:

      So glad to hear that you are going to Iceland! You’ll love it. 🙂 Make sure to stay it at least a week, to catch the opportunity! We can meet in Iceland every winter, that would be cool, right? 🙂

  4. Julika says:

    Wow this looks so unreal! Must be such a sublime feeling to watch something this amazing with you own eyes – so glad you got your chance! Awesome pictures!

  5. iceprinxess says:

    Good post and awesome photos! Glad you managed to catch the unpredictable pretty lights 🙂 Makes me wish I was there.

  6. Amanda says:

    Wow, looks amazing!

    I was in Iceland in March earlier this year, hoping to catch the lights – but the weather never cooperated! Someday, though, I’ll see them too and be just as wowed as you were!

  7. Amazing photos, Juno! The Northern Lights are so special and beautiful – can’t wait to get there one day (although I hear the weather and timing can be a real pest!). It’s great to read about a dream realised – I wish you many more to come!

  8. I’m sorry Juno, I can’t visit your website anymore… I’m so jealous right now, I’m dying for years to go and see the northern lights… hopefully in february!!

  9. Ayngelina says:

    Wow incredible photos Juno!

  10. Alex says:

    Absolutely AMAZING! I love the last photo! I went to Iceland this June and while I loved loved loved being there in the summer and enjoying the nice weather, I know I have to go back someday to see this beautiful show nature puts on. So glad you got such a beautiful night and could share it here with us!

  11. JiYeon, I love the photos and I cannot wait to get to the Northern Lights! Thanks for sharing your story!

  12. Federico says:

    Great photos! I’ve seen them several times but never had the camera ready for the shot. Well done!

  13. Erica says:

    The Northern lights were my most favorite experience in Iceland. I’m so stoked for you that you got to see them!

  14. Susan From Travel Universally says:

    wow, it’s so so so magnificent. Watching Aurora, is my one of the dreams and Still I haven’t get the chance for it. By the way Congrats Juno!

  15. Pete says:

    Amazing. The photo that stands out the most is the top one with the silhouette. Really well done.

  16. Seeing the Aurora is one of the highlights of our life to date. Amazing shots!

  17. Red Hunt says:

    Wow, beautiful pics of the dancing lights! I’m fascinated by the Northern Lights, and all of the stories / folktales that surround them. So cool.

  18. Amazing photos! My dad saw the Northern Lights earlier this year, but it was so cold that his camera just gave up, so it’s exciting that you were able to capture these shots.

  19. Awesome! You are so lucky to get to see the Northern Lights. Your pics are beautiful! Hmm, did the lights spell out “Iceland” in that last photo? 😉

  20. […] days before I actually saw them. It was a magical night. Photos will show more than my words. See my photos of the northern lights here. I know you’re putting Iceland up in your travel […]

  21. Neil says:

    These photos are awesome! I hope I’m able to catch a glimpse of the lights when I visit Iceland next year. Did you go on a tour organised through your hostel?

  22. Peter T says:

    Such amazing photos! I had planned on heading up to Iceland this year to see the light as they say it would be one of the best times in many years to see them, but I couldn’t get time off. Maybe next year

  23. rebecca says:

    I saw them in Iceland in Sept this year but they were faint wow these are amazing would love to see them again

  24. Oh my God, I am SO jealous!!! I spent a week in Iceland hoping everyday to see the Aurora but it never happened. I think they said the weather was just a bit too warm (even though it was the right season for aurora). I was so bummed. I still really hope to see this amazing phenomenon one day though!

  25. […] of us who met in the hostel decided to take a day trip around Reykjanes peninsula, and went out to see the Northern Lights. We made the funniest and the most memorable memories together. It was because Reykjavik […]

  26. WOW!!! They were impressive that night. A lot of people only get to see a little faint colour, but you got the full show!! 😀 And I really like your last shot as well.

  27. […] I didn’t have the best gear to take great photography, but I was happy with what I got. The northern lights were magical. I may come back to Iceland every winter to see the phenomenon! […]

  28. […] view better photos from the same night check out Runaway Juno’s photos of the northern lights. Even though she didn’t have a tripod on this occasion, her photos are better than mine because […]

  29. […] drove about 20 minutes from Reykjavik toward the peninsula. It was one of the best nights of my life. Reykjanes Peninsula is a great spot to watch the Northern Lights when you are based […]

  30. i love Northern Lights and your images are stunning Juno! It’s thrilling to see them again! It must have been breathtaking in person!

  31. such gorgeous lights are worth waiting for 🙂

  32. […] (aurora borealis, or northern lights) was high on my list of things to do since I was a kid, and it finally happened years later. Ever since I changed my lifestyle from a 70-hour work week at the office to self-employed, I […]

  33. Nikita says:

    Ahhh so jealous! Seeing the Northern Lights is one of my biggest dreams… I was also one of those nerdy kids who obsessed over anything celestial. 🙂 Your pictures are gorgeous!

  34. […] reason to be near the north pole in winter. I traveled to the Alaskan Arctic two winters ago and Iceland the year before to catch the northern lights (my childhood dream!), successfully, I might add. I […]

  35. […] and 68° N, which is south of Arctic Circle. Because of the proximity to the aurora borealis zone, the chance to see the lights is pretty high, if the sky is clear. Thanks to its low population, the light pollution is also minimum. When the […]

  36. […] can I not mention aurora borealis when talking about photography in Iceland? This is the most accessible place for the northern […]

  37. […] Juno took a leap of faith and decided to start her career as a travel blogger and since then has seen the northern lights, gone skiing in the Namibian desert, and traveled to Machu Picchu twice. She also has this super […]

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