Aurora Storm hits Lapland, September 2016

September 2016 brought us some of the most powerful Aurora Borealis that we have seen during the last years. I will certainly remember this Aurora Marathon! For one-and-a-half weeks I have seen Aurora Borealis on almost every single night. And I think I would see Auroras on every single night, unless it wasn’t too cloudy. The other reason this month will be so memorable to me is the worldwide media attention, actually a real media storm, that my Aurora Borealis videos have caused. But more about it later!

Auroras love Equinoxes and statistically there are more Northern Lights during Autumn and Spring Equinox months than during core winter months.

Powerful Auroras during the Autumn months is nothing new, though. For the past 4 years that I have been doing Aurora chasing, I’ve seen stronger Auroras in September and October, than December and January. This is partly due to the fact that Auroras love Equinoxes and statistically there are more Northern Lights around Autumn and Spring Equinoxes than during core winter months. Currently, the science does not know the exact reason for that.

Auroras reflecting in a lake in Rovaniemi, Lapland.

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

This particular Aurora Marathon though was caused by a specific reason that we do know of. This reason was a giant coronal hole in the sun’s Northern hemisphere. Many of you know that Aurora Borealis are caused by solar flares. That is, however, only one of the possible reasons. The so called “coronal holes” is another. Coronal holes are areas where the Sun’s corona is darker and colder. From these areas the magnetic field of the Sun reaches into space and the hot gas can escape the Sun. This hot gas can cause Northern Lights in the same manner as from the solar flares.

Coronal hole August 2016. Image credit: Nasa/SDO.

Coronal hole August 2016. Image credit: Nasa/SDO.

There was indeed a really wide coronal hole on the Sun (several, actually!) and as the larger part of it was facing Earth, we received our share of elevated solar speed winds. The enormous size of that coronal hole ensured the presence of high-speed solar wind (and powerful Aurora Borealis) for several days and nights.

First blow form the coronal hole has already arrived during the last week of August. I’ve written about this experience in my previous article. Anticipating more Auroras, I’ve embarked on a new journey. On August the 30th the skies were cloudy in my hometown of Rovaniemi, so I headed North, looking for clear skies. When I found an opening in the sky several dozens km away from home, the show was already on!

Found an opening in the sky to see auroras!

Found an opening in the sky to see auroras! Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

After watching  Auroras play for a couple of hours, the clouds came back, however, I’ve already got what I wanted!

On the next night I was once again on my way up north when I’ve noticed that Aurora show was already starting. I knew I had to react quickly, otherwise I would miss the opportunity. I headed to one of my all-time favourite spots to shoot Northern Lights in Rovaniemi, at the shore at Arktikum museum. As soon as I unpacked my gear, green arches became very prominent!

Aurora Borealis at Arktikum museum in Rovaniemi.

Aurora Borealis at Arktikum museum in Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov.

Next weekend brings me to the beautiful Levi Resort some 150 km above the Arctic Circle. This is the weekend I will remember for a long while! On my first night hunting Auroras I have no expectations at all – the sky should be cloudy, so there is no way to know I will see anything. Regardless, I head into the night, to the shore of one of the numerous local lakes. Fortunately, the clouds start to break, and the minute that I arrive to my spot, the sky explodes with green colour! With my shanking hands I hastily start to assemble my gear! Fortunately, I’m still in time for the big moment (see video in the end of the post)!

Amazing Auroras over Levi lake.

Amazing Auroras over Levi lake. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

The Aurora start striking in every direction.

Aurora Stripes over Levi lake.

Aurora Stripes over Levi lake. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov.

The show literally lasts for several hours and at one point the whole sky just turns green…Amazing!

Green sky over lake Levi.

Green sky over lake Levi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Next night I head up to the top of fell Levi. This place is very familiar to me do to my numerous trips to the area. I’ve also captured some nice Northern Lights there last December 2015!

The beginning of great Aurora Borealis storm.

Aurora Borealis over Levi Ski Resort, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

As soon as I get to the spot, as often as it has been these days, the magic Auroras start unfolding! I have to admit that either I am really lucky or I have some kind of unconscious relation with Aurora!

Auroras start over Levi, Lapland.

Auroras start over Levi, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

The Auroras are moving so fast, that I have trouble keeping up with my three cameras! As soon as I point them to one part of the sky, they move into another. At some point, however, the whole sky reverberates with green.

Green skies over fell Levi.

Green skies over fell Levi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Even after several hours, when I’ve already pack and ready to go, strong Aurora bands persist, and I cannot resist taking just one “last picture” more! :)

Aurora over the top of fell Levi, Lapland.

Aurora over the top of fell Levi, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Next night I’m back in Rovaniemi. The Aurora forecasts says that the nights is likely to be calm, so I decide to save my energy and stay home. I’ve already been out hunting Auroras for the whole week! I still keep monitoring the sky from my balcony and, to my surprise, some powerful Aurora bands start forming above the trees! I rush outside with my gear and this is the view that I witness:

Powerful Auroras over Rovaniemi.

Powerful Auroras over Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

In spite of having numerous good nights, these Auroras prove to be the most powerful and beautiful of the bunch. This is one of the most breathtaking moments:

Breathtaking Auroras unfolding over Rovaniemi.

Breathtaking Auroras unfolding over Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Powerful blows keep on coming one after another, leaving me absolutely speechless. If I have seen more beautiful Auroras than these, there were not very many.

Apart from this amazing beauty, there is another memorable reason for me. During these amazing Aurora nights I also took many realtime videos of Northern Lights and shared them online. Several of these videos were in high demand for World’s top news agencies and they ended up in the news around the world. I had reports of my videos being shown on TV in France, Spain, Germany, USA, and as far as Iran, New Zealand and Australia! Euronews channel included several of these videos in their “No Comment” section.

To be honest, I have never expected that these videos would end up so far.. I am totally humbled and amazed by this experience. The beauty of Auroras is unique and it seems to capture the minds and hearts of people around the world.

I have made a little compilation video of the best Auroras of September 2016. It includes a couple of the moments, that were shown in international TV. I hope you enjoy and we’ll meet again on the pages of this blog for some more Aurora beauty :)

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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