Aurora Trip

I've been saying for a long time that I'd really like to see the Aurora Borealis at some point. My friend Ron Cain's tale of having done so finally inspired me to think about it a little harder and create this page as a placeholder. First, the Aurora is a fickle phenomenon to see. It isn't always there. It helps to be at a sunspot high, which happens every 11 years. The last high was in 2001, so our next opportunity to see this at its peak will be in 2012. The 2012 cycle is expected to be a real doozy, perhaps 50% stronger than the 2001 cycle. This is when I'm shooting to go, although if I had a surprise opportunity within the next 12-24 months it would be worth a look.

You can see the Aurora best in more northerly latitudes. Alaska is good, but Greenland is supposed to be one of the best. Supposedly, around February is the best time of year too. Be prepared for temperatures in the range of 50 below zero, so expedition quality clothing will be a must. I believe some of the snow scenes from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back were filmed in Greenland to give some idea of conditions.

This trip would be a real adventure, I think. It would be a chance to view the closest thing to an alien world most of us will ever see, which is something I really like about it. Ideally, I'll be flying a plane capable of making a trip to Greenland at that time, so perhaps I'll even be able to fly myself up there. I'm not too sure the wife will be interested in attending!

I'll have to do some research between now and then on what kind of camera gear will be best to photograph the Aurora. A telescope is clearly not helpful. Some sort of wide angle lens with a very low f-ratio is more likely the ticket. Presumably it'll be digital in 10 years also; probably with an 80 megapixel CCD if Moore's Law holds!

There are some things other than Auroras to see in Greenland, but I'm not sure the time of year will be ideal to see them!

Viking ruins in Greenland...

Pack your long-handled underwear!

All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.