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The Northern Lights

Experience the Magic: Your Ultimate Guide to Spotting the Northern Lights

Have you ever wanted to see the magnificent northern lights, but weren’t sure where to start? Spotting the northern lights in the UK can be a challenge but it is possible. All you need is a bit of planning and the right timing, and you can experience this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. In this blog post, we’ll give you all the tips you need to make the most of your northern lights spotting experience in the UK.

Know when to look

When it comes to spotting the northern lights, timing is everything. Even in the UK, where these mysterious and beautiful auroras appear most frequently during the autumn and winter months, it is important to know when to go out and look for them. Luckily, there are a number of tools available to help you figure out the best time to view the northern lights. 

One of the easiest ways to find out when the northern lights may be visible is by downloading an aurora app onto your phone such as AuroraWatchUK. This app will alert you when the conditions are favorable for spotting the northern lights and provide you with detailed forecasts. Or you can take a look at their website or checking the website AuroraWatchUK  

Additionally, you can check online for a Kp index (geomagnetic activity) report which will tell you whether auroras are likely. The higher the Kp index number, the better the chance of seeing them. 

Remember that the northern lights are unpredictable, so don’t be discouraged if they don’t appear when you expect them to. With patience and a little luck, you’ll be rewarded with this stunning natural phenomenon!

Check the weather forecast

If you want to spot the northern lights, checking the weather forecast is one of the most important steps. While the aurora can appear on cloudy nights, it’s much easier to spot when the skies are clear. You’ll also want to check for forecasts of cloud cover and make sure the night you pick is going to be as dark as possible. Checking the weather forecast also helps you plan around any rain or snow that might interfere with your viewing experience. 

Get away from light pollution

Obviously if you are staying here at Strawberry Skys then light pollution isn’t an issue. But if you are in a town or a city then head somewhere a bit more remote and dark. The ideal place would be a rural area away from all man-made lights such as street lamps and car headlights. This will allow you to have a clear view of the sky and will enable you to see the Northern Lights in all their glory.

Use your naked eye first

Spotting the northern lights with your naked eye is a thrilling experience and one that all aurora hunters should try! The best way to spot them with your naked eye is to find a dark area away from light pollution and let your eyes adjust for about 15 minutes. When looking for the lights, it helps to scan the sky slowly and be aware of any faint glows. You may even be able to see them dance across the sky! When you find the aurora, it’s important to remember that they can be very faint and may be barely visible. Be patient and take the time to appreciate their subtle beauty.

Using a camera

If you want to capture the northern lights on camera, then ideally you will need a camera and a tripod. However it is possible to capture the lights on your phone camera. Just make sure you have the correct settings for night photography. 

Start off by setting the ISO level to 1600, this will help you capture more light from the night sky. The next step is to select a long exposure time. For best results, try 15-30 seconds. This will allow you to capture the dancing lights and their movement. Lastly, make sure you set your white balance to ‘auto’ and use manual focus mode. This will help ensure your pictures are sharp and clear. 

Once your camera is set up, all you have to do is wait for the lights to appear! Have some fun experimenting with different settings and compositions. 

Capture the foreground

Capturing the foreground in photos of the northern lights is a great way to add an extra layer of interest and drama to your shots. 

If you’re able to, pick a location with a natural feature that will provide an interesting foreground for your photos such as a tree, mountain, or lake. Position yourself so that you can compose the scene with the natural feature in the foreground and the northern lights in the background. You may want to include some stars in the sky too. 

You will need to use a long exposure when capturing the foreground and the northern lights. Be creative with your compositions and experiment with different angles, perspectives and focal lengths. Using these techniques will ensure you capture stunning photos of the northern lights with an interesting foreground. Have fun experimenting and enjoy creating lasting memories!

Be prepared 

Going to watch the Northern Lights can be an exciting and memorable experience, but it is important to go prepared. Before you go, make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather – clear skies means that temperatures could drop to below freezing, so wrap up warm! Also, don’t forget to take a hot drink with you – a thermos of tea or coffee will come in handy as you wait for the aurora borealis to appear. With these simple tips in mind, you’ll be ready to enjoy the spectacular display that is the Northern Lights. 

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