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Sleeping in my car and almost missing the best Aurora

I fell asleep in my car and was very close to missing some fabulous Northern Lights. Very, very close!

But let me tell the story from the beginning.

Last night I had no plans to do any Northern Lights photography. I had checked the Kp value (the one that all Aurora hunters constantly keep an eye on) in the morning and it was very low. In addition, I thought it would be cloudy for the next few days. But as I put my little one to bed and waited for him to fall asleep I checked the weather forecast and saw to my surprise that the sky would clear up during the night.

I always check the weather before checking the Kp value or any other Aurora forecast data. There is no point in knowing that there's a high possibility for a great Aurora only to finding out the sky is going to be overcast. So I do it in that order. Weather first.

Ok, possibly a clear sky.

The last months the Northern Lights have been very active, but where I live it has been cloudy for the most part so I have not had many opportunities to capture them.

As I sat on the edge of my sons bed I saw that the Kp value was now 4,33 which is good. I decided to head out so I made a sandwich and hot chocolate and put on a lot of clothes. You know, to the point when it becomes difficult to move. It was –1° Celsius and I dressed like it was –15. Aurora photography means a lot of standing still. I think you get the picture.

I came to my chosen location at 23.45 and I mounted my camera on the tripod right away. The Northern Lights were present although partly hidden behind some clouds. But I noticed that those clouds moved northwards so I expected a clear sky soon.

After taking about 35 shots the Aurora faded somewhat and I decided to try to take a nap in my car.

That is exactly as uncomfortable as it sounds, but I'm fairly good at it. I tried to relax but opened my eyes every now and then to check the sky. After 15 minutes I fell asleep.

At 1 am I woke up. I had my car pointing to the North so I would easily see the state of the Aurora. I could hardly believe my eyes. There was a fantastic show going on right in front of me. I jumped out of the car, fumbling to get my camera on the tripod and started to shoot. It must have looked quite funny. You know how it is when you wake up and have to do something really quckly right away. Not smooth. No precision. Very clumsy. I had to laugh at myself.

But I also laughed of pure happiness. I am so glad I woke up and did not miss this because it only lasted for 6 minutes before fading.

The best Auroras are those with a clear shape. When they become blurry and diffuse they kind of lose their appeal. Here are examples of both.

On my way home I made a few stops and ended up shooting in the town. The street lights were put out at this time in the night (now 2 am) so I managed to get a few Northern Lights photos there too. But the best part was over and I went home at 2.30.

Note that all my photos are for sale even if they are not in the webshop. Just let me know if you want any of the photos in my blog on your wall and I'll fix that.

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