Northern Lights Hunting

If you’re coming to Iceland during the wintertime, chances are that you’re gonna want to see the northern lights! On the cold winter nights, thousands of people go searching for them, hoping to be the one to catch a glimpse. There are tours that you can take and while comfortable, it’s no match to being alone under the starry sky and watching the colorful lights dancing. There are some that want to embellish the northern lights hunt, but we’ve found that that couldn’t be further from the truth! Here is an extremely brief guide for the northern lights! 

First things first. The website that gives you a good estimate of where you can find the northern lights is called vedur.is.

https://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/ here is the link for the aurora page.

On it you can see where it’s going to be cloudy (the green spots on the map) and where it’ll be clear skies (the white spots). And we obviously want the map to be white as snow so that our chances of seeing the lights are greater. 

On the right side of the screen you can see the aurora forecast, it tells you on a scale of 0-9 how intense the lights will be. I’ve broken it down for simplicity.

1,2 – Alright visibility, small greenish streak in the sky. It won’t be like the pictures you’ve seen but if you have a good camera you might get a pretty nice photo.

3,4 – As soon as we hit a 3 that’s when the lights really start kicking it into high gear. They become bigger, more intense, more colours and they ́ll probably move around. Your camera is going to get a very good photo.

5,6 – Can become incredibly big, multiple colours and will be dancing right in front of you. This is where people usually start crying.

7,8,9 – Is when the photos become real life. If you’re lucky enough to be in Iceland when they forecast a 7 or above, make sure not to miss it!

Now, vedur.is is by no means perfect, but it will give you a rough estimate on where you might be able to see the lights and how intense they will be that night.

Next step, is getting there. You know that there will indeed be northern lights tonight, you have warm clothes and you’re ready to go! We have written another blog about driving in Iceland during the winter time. It’s short and to the point so make sure to check it out.

Simply check where on the map the white spots are and drive there! It’s simple as that. Usually about 30 minutes away from the city is enough for you to see them clearly. You don’t need to drive far at all!

If you have a proper camera, make sure to google the optimal camera settings and take the tripod with you.
IPhone users, remember to download the aurora camera.

If you have a new samsung, LG, google pixle or huawei, you should be good. You will need a tripod to keep it steady while it takes the photo.

That is honestly all there is to it! Educate yourself where the northern lights will be the night you want to see them. Dress well and drive off into the night! It really is as simple as that!

Happy hunting!

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