Aurora Borealis, start of the season 2016–17!

I love hunting for Aurora Borealis on the August nights. Seeing northern lights for the first time since the old season is always encouraging and the air temperature is still relatively warm even at night. Don’t get me wrong, I am not afraid of cold and have been hunting for auroras at temperatures below –30°C. At this point the equipment starts failing but the man still persists! Still,  keeping yourself warm while waiting for Auroras is still a bit of a challenge to say the least. Sometimes three pairs of trousers, sweaters and gloves seem not enough. Compared to those times, these relaxed August nights feel like a picnic!

Wooden path to Koivusaari island in Rovaniemi, Lapland.

Wooden path to Koivusaari island in Rovaniemi, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Here, at the Arctic Circle, it is possible to see the first Northern lights on the second or third week of August. That’s when our nights finally become dark again and we can see the stars and Auroras. The summer sunset comes late still, at around 21-22PM so there’s a great opportunity to capture the beautiful sunlight.

At the Arctic Circle, it is possible to see the first Northern lights on the second or third week of August.

On my first night out I am at one of my favourite spots to see Northern Lights in Rovaniemi – the river bank of the Arktikum museum and Science centre. There’s something about this place that attracts me no matter the season. Certainly, it is one of the easiest places to reach on foot from the central hotels. Standing on this spot, I realise how lucky I am right now, still smelling the grass and enjoying a warm night, wearing one coat only! The sun is still pretty close to the horizon at night, so there is a band of orange colour stretching over the horizon.  Speaking about the Auroras though, the first night is calm. At one point I see as short sparkle of Aurora, however, when I manage to aim my camera at it, the sparkle is almost indistinguishable in the sky. Can you find it? Look below the lighter cloud in the middle 😉 Still don’t see it? Don’t worry! :)

Arktikum Museum at night in Rovaniemi

Arktikum Museum at night in Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

My next attempt of hunting Auroras happens far North, during a hiking trip around 230 km above the line of the Arctic circle, in the picturesque surroundings of the great Pallas fells. Here, at lake Pallas, you can see this magnificent view over the North and the fells. I wait for the Auroras the whole night but there are none in sight. The nights are getting colder, but a fireplace and a cup of freshly made hot tea make up for a good warm company! See this little video…just a bliss!

I already part with the idea to see the Auroras this night, but decide to give it last 10 minutes. This is when the magic starts to happen! My trained eye sees a transparent grey band forming above the lake, and surely enough, in about a minute or two it develops into a green sparkling Aurora!

Aurora band lake Pallas in Northern Lapland

Aurora band over lake Pallas in Northern Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

A few short sparkles here and there, and the show subsides. Not to worry, there are definitely better nights coming!

Auroras at wilderness hut at Pallas in Northern Lapland.

Auroras at wilderness hut at Pallas in Northern Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

My next night brings me to the island of Koivusaari. It is a small little island, situated right in the heart of Rovaniemi, but away from the city lights (see the first image of the post!).  Here I encounter two of the German tourists. We have a chat and to my surprise I found out that they’ve come here after reading my article of the great places to spot Auroras in Rovaniemi. I am a man of my word! Together we wait for Auroras and soon they are here!

Only in August can you capture these beautiful images with both orange sunset and the Auroras together! On this image they are also complimented by the light of the almost full moon.

Northern Lights over Ounasjoki river in Rovaniemi, Lapland.

Northern Lights over Ounasjoki river in Rovaniemi, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

These Auroras are nice, but I surely want more!

A couple of days later, on the last week of August, and I’m off for another Aurora journey. I head to a wild lake somewhere in Rovaniemi region, about 40 km above the Arctic Circle. I often choose lakes in Autumn as my Aurora spots, because that way I can capture some beautiful reflections of Northern Lights in the water. I am not familiar with the territory, so I get lost in the process of finding a lake. Instead of reaching the lake, I make a 180 degree turn and come back to the road. Well, it is already dark after all! Always try to visit your spot beforehand, at daytime, if it is situated in the wild!

I do not give up and give it another go. The lake is only half a kilometer away from the road. The second time is successful and I end up on the shore of a beautiful little lake. The minute I get there, the show begins! I rush to assemble my equipment in place, because the lights are already blazing!

Auroras developing over a lake in Rovaniemi, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Auroras developing over a lake in Rovaniemi, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

What started as a short band quickly develops into a full Aurora storm!

Auroras reflecting in a lake in Rovaniemi, Lapland.

Auroras reflecting in a lake in Rovaniemi, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

The whole sky is filled with green by now. Just wow! You don’t get tired of seeing the Auroras no matter how many times you’ve seen them before!

Auroras in full swing over a lake in Rovaniemi, Lapland.

Auroras in full swing over a lake in Rovaniemi, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Here’s a realtime video of the event, take a look!

The show doesn’t last too long though, only about 15 minutes, but very amazing 15 minutes! The start of the season was indeed successful and came just as planned!

More great nights are in the offing. Meanwhile, check my other articles about the Auroras:

How to take pictures of  Northern Lights

Best places to spot Auroras in Rovaniemi

How to edit images of Northern Lights

Author: Alexander Kuznetsov

I am an Editor-in-Chief of "All About Lapland" travel magazine, passionate Aurora Chaser, and an adventurous photographer. Based in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland but travel all around the region.

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2 Comments

  1. HII JUST WANTED TO KNOW IS NOVEMBER THE RIGHT SEASON TO O AND SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS BECOZ WE ARE PLANNING FOR 04DAYS PLEASE IF YOU COULD GUIDE US AND HELP US OUT BY GIVING INFORMATION ABOUT THE NORTHERN LIGHTS.

    WAITING FOR A QUICK RESPONSE

    THANK YOU

    TANAZ

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