Friday, 1 June 2012

Amazing Iceland – In Search of the Northern Lights

After being back at work just over 6 weeks I was going off on holiday again – this time to Iceland, with the hopes of seeing the Northern Lights!! I finished work on Friday 16th March, and stayed overnight in a London Hostel, ready to catch a train to the airport the next morning. I remember lying in bed thinking I should probably get up now… when the fire alarm went off. Yep, that got me up. Though it is amazing how many people DON’T respond to a fire alarm – This time it was false alarm, but I would hate to see what would happen if it was real. Anyway I met Claire at the train station and we were off on our adventurous trip to Iceland :D

After arriving in Reykjavik, we got a bus to our accom, where we quickly checked in, had a shower and got the hostel to makes as a toasted sandwich, so we could get on our tour bus for the Northern Lights Mystery Tour. We had about a 2 hour drive to get where we needed to get to. And who knows where that place actually was (thus the ‘mystery’). At about 8.30pm the drivers spotted some activity! We stopped and could see a faint green hue in the sky! It was hard to actually see whether it was from the lights or just the last bit of light from the setting sun – we could still see a bright orange glow on the horizon. It was actually one of the most unusual sunsets I’ve seen…

Hot Springs... definitely different to the air temperature
After some more driving we arrived at a hot spring, which was very steamy. The sky was overcast, and there was no signs of any more activity :(. I suppose at least I could say I have seen them, even if it was very faint. It was also very cold waiting in the dark, so after about an hour it was thankfully time to head back. As we were driving back, though, the drivers suddenly spotted a green glow in the sky! We had found some :D. However, they were only green, but I’m not complaining. We were quite lucky to find the lights, and were smart to decide to go on the day we arrived in Iceland – other people we talked to didn’t get a chance to see them after that day.

Some of the lights were the typical ‘curtain’ of light that you see in photos, particularly where the sky was clear. Other just looked like the glow of lights you see on the horizon over cities. But as you watch them, they slowly fade in and out and move about. We were pulled over on the side of the road for about 45 minutes, hopping on and off the bus every now and again when the lights were particularly bright. It was FREEZING, the forecast for Reykjavik was –7C, and we were outside the city, plus the windchill would have made it even colder. I used a 13 second exposure on my camera, after which I could really feel my hands anymore! We finally got home at 2am and went straight to bed. That’s another reason I was glad to spot the lights on the first night. The tour company we went with offered a guarantee – they would take you out every night until you saw the lights or money back if you didn’t see them before leaving. I definitely would not have like staying out til 2am every night, especially as we had such a hectic schedule…

Here's some photos of the lights. They aren't the best, would have been better with a tripod, and longer exposure time. I 'enhanced' all of them except the first one, where you can really see the 'curtain' effect :) I've added the originals so you can compare.

A green glow in the clouds

Before

After

Before

After

Before

After

2 comments:

Amanda said...

Ahhh SO jealous you got to see them, even if they were a little faint. Even though my whole trip to Iceland was made in hopes that I'd see the lights, I never did get to. Ah well. Iceland was amazing anyway!

Sarah Odgaard said...

We were VERY lucky, and it was a good choice to go on the first day. We were pushing it for time a bit though - By the time we got from the airport, checked in, dumped our stuff and ordered a toasted sandwich the minibus was there to pick us up!