The Tale Of The Failed Aurora Hunter

northern lights

We are the failed aurora hunters, despite the numerous trips around our own country and others we still haven’t seen the aurora.

Actually that’s a slight lie, I have seen the aurora once whilst on a dry ski slope at Alford in Aberdeenshire.  A little foray into skiing whilst at uni!  But I can’t remember what it looked like now, my memory is not good from back then.  Ha ha!

aurora hunter

I have plenty of memories of driving around various parts of Scotland when the aurora app on my phone would tell me there was a chance to see the aurora.  Unfortunately it never happened and despite driving into the wilderness around Aberdeen and in Stirlingshire, I haven’t had any luck.

For Christmas 2016 we were in Lapland.  I was sure this would be it, this would be when we saw the Northern Lights in full show.  We were in the Arctic Circle.  In winter.  It would be perfect!  We arrived in Lapland and people at the reception were comparing photos of the lights from the previous night and commenting on how spectacular they were.  We couldn’t wait for our chance!  We stayed for 3 nights and went for walks into the forest where the lights weren’t obscuring the sky.  But the clouds never shifted and we saw nothing but darkness.

aurora borealis

Fast forward to November last year and we were in Iceland for a full week.  Surely we would see something?!  Again the aurora was amazing the weekend before we arrived.  We saw a tantalising faint smear of green in the sky on the first night, but it was one of those things where you can only see it if you don’t look directly at it…  Not quite what we were hoping for.  Every day after that it was cloudy and we didn’t manage to see anything.  Obviously the day we arrived home the skies had cleared in Iceland and an amazing display of the Northern lights could be seen.

It’s so frustrating and it’s luck whether we see it or not.  We know we are never guaranteed to see the aurora no matter where we travel to.  But maybe one day our luck will be in and the lights will magically dance in front of us in greens and purples. One day we will see it and all our hunting will be worth it!

So the big question is – where now? Where do you recommend an aurora hunter should go to see the Northern lights?!

9 Comments

  1. Stephanie
    January 3, 2018 / 11:36 pm

    I would recommend using a website called softservenews.com. It has updates on when you can see the northern lights based on the kplevels in your area. For example, for the area I live in I need the kplevel to be at least a 7. If you live further north you generally have a greater chance of seeing them.
    Also, get out of the city, lights generally hinder the ability to see them.
    I’ve only seen them once and it was after I had taken a photo of them.
    Good luck!

  2. January 5, 2018 / 4:33 pm

    Oh gosh, what a shame! My friend saw an incredible display from Mull a few years ago, I know you mentioned you’re heading there later in the year, you never know that might be it!
    Nat.x

  3. January 10, 2018 / 10:24 am

    It’s a tough one. I’d be gutted not to have found them. North Sweden maybe or Norway? Canada? All I know is its high up on my list too. Sarah

  4. March 9, 2018 / 6:47 pm

    Hi Jenny,

    What about coming here to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories?

    We are directly under the Aurora oval and have many months in which your chances are very good to see the Northern Lights.

  5. March 10, 2018 / 10:25 pm

    Oh Jenny, how disappointing!

    Tromso in Norway is a great option. Again I’d allow a full week to maximise the opportunity. There are plenty of winter activities so you won’t get board. If you wanted to you could split your time between Tromso and the Lofoten Islands; that way you’re seeing a bit more whilst staying within the Arctic Circle with good opportunity to see the lights.

    Good luck next time!

  6. Steph
    April 19, 2018 / 6:16 am

    Northern Canada! Churchill manitoba is a great place to view the aurora (and bonus polar bears) the territories and Alaska are supposed to be really good too. And in addition to softservenews.com i suggest aurora notify you can sign up for emails and they keep you pretty up to date on when potential solar storms are coming in as well.
    Happy aurora hunting!

  7. May 14, 2018 / 10:44 pm

    I could have written this! I missed them in Orkney, Lewis & 4 times in Iceland! I’ve now seen them 3 times. Once on a flight and twice in Iceland, one of those times being very strong when I got fabulous photos. I was told to allow 2 full weeks but I never needed that in the end. I think Iceland is best around Sept/Oct. March is also very good (pro photographer in Shetland told me that). It seems midwinter isn’t the best, maybe too much cloud. I wouldn’t pay lots of money though because it’s so unpredictable.

    • May 17, 2018 / 10:44 pm

      Thanks for letting me know! I want to go back to Iceland again, so maybe we should go in March instead?!

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