Tag Archive | Aurora Borealis

Move on

The prime reason that we booked our cruise to Norway was to see the Northern Lights and, after the excitement of seeing them on just the 4th night of our trip, we were able to settle in, sit back and relax to enjoy the scenery whilst sailing from port to port. We were also keen to learn about the history of the remaining places on our itinerary as well as explore the ship further. We had the ideal opportunity as we spent a few days at sea on our way to Tromso, our next stop.

The Cunard Queen Elizabeth is a spectacular ship and I was amazed by the decor. So many decks, so much to do; so much choice from dining to entertainment, relaxing to wellbeing. Everyone is catered for. I discovered the extensive library, the shopping mall, art gallery, casino and countless bars. The photography desk, Garden Room, quizzes held 3 or 4 times a day, and the traditional English Pub.  Boredom was my main fear when booking a cruise, I needn’t have worried!

As we travelled North, the seas were intermittently choppy and at times the upper decks were closed and the swimming pool became a Tsunami; rightly cordoned off from use. Having done a DNA analysis as part of my family tree tracing I understand that I am 20% Norwegian/Icelandic and it occurred to me how brave the Viking explorers/marauders were setting sail from their homeland not knowing if they would fall off the edge, find the land of their dreams or sail home disappointed. 

On our approach to Tromso, we sailed through the fjords but the weather was not in our favour; cloudy and dull with 1″ of snow on the upper decks making walking around the ship quite treacherous although some amongst us were sure-footed enough to start a snowball fight and build a small snowman! We had an early breakfast and, when we had docked (on time as always) we went down to Deck 1 ready for our coach tour of Tromso. Looking at the weather forecast, we were pleased that we had booked the coach trip instead of walking around the city and looked forward to a couple of hours snug and warm whilst being shown the highlights of this Arctic Capital.

(To be continued)

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A sky full of stars (Northern Lights 3)

I know several people who have had seeing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) on their bucket list for many years waiting for the opportunity to visit a likely location. Some people are lucky enough to see them on their first attempt, others are not so lucky and despite all the planning, come home disappointed. I also know some who have seen them multiple times and all I can say is that success is a bit of a lottery!

Having said that, it is possible to accurately predict the appearance of the Northern Lights. It’s all to do with the geo-magnetics and solar activity and scientists who analyse solar activity are able to identify not only when the Aurora will be most prevalent but also how strong it will be. On our cruise, Mr Maclean told us that, having consulted with his colleagues, the solar activity was very good and, if the weather conditions are in our favour, we would see a spectacular sight.

So, although the presence, likelihood and strength of the Aurora can be predicted (good news) the bad news is that however amazing the Aurora is, you won’t see it on a cloudy night. The weather is something that cannot be accurately predicted and Borealis spotters are at the mercy of the elements.

Monday evening, cruising between Alesund and Tromso heading North, was a “perfect” evening for catching sight of the Aurora. The sky was clear and full of stars. It was also extremely cold on deck so I ventured outside looking like Nanook of the North dressed in thermals, winter jacket, woolly hat, snood, thermal trousers, thermal sock and walking boots. I also put a hand-warming pack into my pocket, not only to keep my hands warm so I could operate the camera, but also to keep the batteries warm in the cameras I wasn’t using. (batteries wear out quickly in cold weather) For two hours I was the only person out on deck and to be honest, I was getting a bit fed up. I’m not the most patient of people and was on the verge of giving up and going back to my nice warm stateroom when I spotted a grey-green fuzzy cloud in the sky. Another thing I learned from John Maclean’s brilliant talk was that a lot of people missed the Aurora not realising what they are looking at. The human naked eye cannot see the spectrum of colour that the Aurora produces BUT when you point your camera at a grey-green fuzzy “cloud” in the night sky, you might just see this;

At which point, although the image wasn’t that exciting, I clearly was not looking at a dull grey-green cloud but the beginnings of the Aurora Borealis. I abandoned all thoughts of going back to my stateroom and continued to take photos as the lights developed.

I am particularly fond of this last photo as it shows the different colours which can appear during a solar storm and if I never see the Aurora Borealis again, I am content that I have seen a spectacular sight and I will cross it off my Bucket List.

Something will need to replace it……..