Hunt for the Green October. Auroras in Lapland.

Hello guys!

I’m writing this post just hours after an amazing Aurora Experience I had tonight, on October the 25th 2016. The massive Aurora Storm is hitting our Planet these days and Auroras are likely to be seen as far as Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Estonia etc. But before I take you through that experience, let me tell about the “Green October”!

I’m often asked “Which is the best month to see Auroras”? This is a tricky question to answer, because there are several good ones! Usually, the months around Autumn and Spring equinoxes are the best to see Northern Lights, in other words, September, October, March and, perhaps, first half of April. It doesn’t mean that there are no Auroras in the Winter time, however, statistics show that the Equinox auroras are slightly more powerful. If I had to choose one best month to see the Aurora Borealis, I would be October!

During the past years, it was in October when I saw many memorable Aurora Borealis, which is a good reason to name this month “green”. Current year 2016 has been no exception. Many good Auroras happened already in September, slowly transitioning into October. Also, October is the time when some unexpected Northern Lights can occur: even thought the Aurora forecast is low, there can be a good Auroras out there!

If I had to choose one best month to see the Aurora Borealis, I would be October!

I met the beginning of October on one of the lakes in Rovaniemi area. The weather was very cloudy, so I did not expect much. There have been, however, a few lucky breaks in the skies. When I saw this scene unfolding, I knew that it will be a good night!

Aurora show starting behind the clouds in Rovaniemi.

Aurora show starting behind the clouds in Rovaniemi.Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

The Auroras came in and out of hiding from time to time, and at one point I saw the famous “pink” Auroras. They are really rare to see, because the occur at the very low level in out atmosphere when the Auroras are very powerful. They usually show up only for a few dozens of seconds and they move very fast.

Pink Auroras are rare to see. Rovaniemi, Lapland.

Pink Auroras are rare to see. Rovaniemi, Lapland. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

See the video here:

Next night, October the 3rd, was even better! There was a small Aurora Storm coming, so I was ready to face it with all my photo and video gear. The skies were clear and I ended up seen two strong Aurora shows in one night!

Once again, I chose one of my favourite spots to shoot Northern Lights in Rovaniemi, the top of Ounasvaara fell. Perhaps, I have made this place popular, because I was not alone there :) As with many Aurora moments this year, I arrived just in time before the show. Either I am very very lucky, or somehow I have learned a bit or two about how the Auroras behave. I might be both!

Auroras ignite the skies over Rovaniemi.

Auroras ignite the skies over Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

The beauty and the power of this show was hard to match! The Auroras moved very fast, making it difficult to take pictures – once I had my perfect frame, the Auroras were already in the next place! I’ve made some nice shots, though, in spite of a small creative challenge :)

Powerful Aurora Storm over Ounasvaara in Rovaniemi.

Powerful Aurora Storm over Ounasvaara in Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Several hours (and hundreds of photos) later, I was on my way home. The Auroras were still going strong, so I could not resist taking a few more pictures!

Auroras dancing over Rovaniemi city.

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

Next day, there was no sign of Aurora Storm subsiding. After a night on top of the hill, next night I chose a quite place close to a lake.

I ended up calling it “The Swan Lake”, because there were many swans out there, making some loud noises even at night time! Apparently, they did not yet leave for warmer countries, perhaps, to enjoy the show like I did.

Auroras over the Swan lake in Rovaniemi.

Auroras over the Swan lake in Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Take a look at this video, you will hear the swan noises in the distance :)

A couple of days later, another Storm is coming! As often with these storms, the Auroras can be seen right after the sunset. It is also a great moment to capture some incredible images, like this!

Northern Lights just after the sunset in Rovaniemi.

Northern Lights just after the sunset in Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

This night was surreal in many ways. Besides the Auroras, dancing above the sunset, there was a huge fog, a full moon, and a couple of military jets training in the skies, making some loud noises.

Full moon, jet trails and Aurora Borealis in Rovaniemi.

Full moon, jet trails and Aurora Borealis in Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

I could not enjoy the show in full glory, because the clouds covered the sky pretty quickly. Lousy weather stayed on for many days, but I was constantly looking for an opportunity to catch some lights!

This opportunity came in the end of the month, on October the 25th, where our blog posts starts. The weather forecast was dreadful (=cloudy!). However, I saw an opening in the sky and I decided to take my chances. I’ve packed my cameras, batteries, tripods, some tea and headed out. On my way to one of my favourite Aurora spots, I saw the lights starting in the sky. It takes a trained eye to spot these weak Auroras, as one might mix them up with the clouds. Taking a photo with a camera, of course, enhances your ability to distinguish Auroras.

The start of the Aurora Storm.

The start of the Aurora Storm. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

Once I got to the spot, the weather started changing, and the clouds started to roll in. Still, the Auroras were so bright that they were easily cutting through some lucky breaks in the clouds. One of the amazing things about the Aurora storms, is that you never know in what part of the sky the Auroras will appear! “Normal” Auroras can be usually seen in the Northern direction, however, when Auroras are powerful, they can be everywhere! So, contrary to my usual expectations, this time the Auroras came from the South!

Aurora Storm cuts through the clouds in Rovaniemi.

Aurora Storm cuts through the clouds in Rovaniemi. Photo by Alexander Kuznetsov / All About Lapland.

The clouds soon covered it all, but I still was happy. This night and the whole month of October has given me lots of memorable moments. And the month is not over yet, so I might get lucky one more time!

Happy Aurora hunting, guys! :)

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. Hi Alex,

    Will be visiting Rovaniemi in late October 2017. May i know what Nikon settings should i have to take the Aurora sightings. How shall i keep the camera warm , what is the average temperature like, do we need waterproof boots will it be windy during that period . We will be staying in Murrola and its near a lake and do you think its a good place to see the Aurora .
    Thanks for the advice in advance.

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