The guide said there are three things required to see Northern Lights.
- Solar flares
- Clear sky
- Dark night
Yesterday, all the three lined up. Took a guided tour, as I wasn’t too sure about where to go or whether the roads were okay to drive in the night. Remember my comment in my last post about my large parent set? I don’t like being responsible for myself! Anyway, on hindsight, I should have booked a guided tour with lesser number of people. But for starters, this was pretty great.
We went about 45 mins out of town. I am incapable of staying awake in moving vehicles. While the guide explained the science behind the phenomenon, I obviously slept. But one does have Google for these things. And here’s a quick summary of it.
The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. Variations in colour are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.
The lights are unreal. Yesterday, it was green and pink! Absolutely eye-popping stunning. Now, every self-respecting photographer has to take a long exposure shot of this view. And it was on my list too. Remember this was at -3 degree Celsius! Like a complete idiot, I had not assembled the tripod and fixed the camera to it. I spent about 30 mins freezing my butt off, in pitch dark, fumbling with the camera and tripod! By the end of it, I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore. Cursing my intelligence (or the lack of it), I tried one last time and it fit finally! Managed to get one decent shot of the Northern Lights, that you can see. I could have cried last night! 😀 Also, a big thank you to my usual travel company over the years. I did not realize how big a deal it was to always have an extra pair of hands to carry tripod/camera bag etc. etc. You know who you all are, and I missed you the most last night! I have another 11 days to go. So, I do plan to see these lights again, and this time I will be prepared!
On another note, excellent travel advice is streaming in. Someone from a travel forum recommended this place called Braud, which had the most delectable cinnamon rolls! Irene has suggested this Icelandic rye bread, which is baked underground, buried in a bubbling geothermal pit! On my list when I go to the Golden Circle. 🙂
Today is a grey and gloomy day. Pretty much the prediction for the rest of the week as well. Spent most of the day walking around town and sipping coffee and hot chocolate. Just started reading City of Djinns by William Dalrymple. Sure feels like a vacation. 🙂
Reykjavik Roasters has excellent coffee. And a window seat which is pretty laugh worthy. The ice outside is insanely slippery and we are all cracking up watching folks slide and fall. Yes, we are not very good human beings.
Golden circle on the cards tomorrow. IF it doesn’t rain. And before I close this post, these toe warmers by Hot Hands are a God-send. Because warm feet and happy self are closely related!
Update on the 8th day of the trip – Northern Lights have been blessed last 3 days! Have seen them all over Jokulsarlon and Vik. Yay! Couple of times, it was too cold to even bother with the camera. But I did get some great shots at Vik. Definition of ‘very cold weather’ has changed. Weak winds with 0-1 degree Celsius temperature has become bearable!