It was the main reason for visiting Iceland in early winter coupled with a NASA prediction that it would be the brightest levels for 50 years. I am off course talking about the aurora borealis or the northern lights. Our friends Hans and Naz travelled all the way from Australia to see it. Now that's what I call dedication!
Before we arrived, we did lots of Internet research on what causes the phenomenon, where are the best places to see it, and whether it's possible to forecast the strength of aurora display before trekking out into the dark for a viewing.
It was kind of obvious that we would need a largely cloud free sky and watching late at night when the sky is at its darkest. What we hadn't fully factored on was the moon phase which is naturally very good at spoiling a dark night. With holiday already booked, I nervously Googled the moon phase schedule during our vacation visit and was relieved to find it dark for the first week and gradually getting lighter through the second. Fingers were crossed for good weather in the first week.
We arrived early afternoon, checked the weather and aurora forecast on http://en.vedur.is and found that it was going to be largely clear skies and a low aurora strength. This prompted a quick visit to the hire car office and an evening plan of late night soak in the Blue Lagoon, a supper in Reykjanesbaer and then a drive out to the west coast roads away from the light pollution of the towns.
The photos tell the rest of the story. Despite low aurora strength for both nights, we were lucky with the clear skies and the lack of moonlight. The photos reflect what the DSLR camera saw over a long shutter capture. The view to the human eye was far less dramatic than this (I'm sad to say) but regardless, the opportunity to see the lights and their freaky slow movement was a real honour and another natural wonder checked off the bucket list!
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