Northern Lights lights are beautiful and seem other-worldly. For kids (who haven’t seen them before) it’s like magic. Being here in Wyoming and most other places in the lower 48 states the trick is catching them when they are in the sky.
In order to see the lights the Kp levels have to be pretty high and at storm level in order to see them if you’re south of Canada.
Unlike a thunderstorm they are silent. They could be happening right now! (You should stop reading this and check the sky). Auroras could come and go without you being any the wiser.
So to help with this problem you need to follow Soft-Serve News or Aurora Service – North America on Facebook. They will send you alerts whenever the Kp levels are at storm level and strong enough for us in the lower 48 to see the show.
You should also check on these sites daily.
Both of these are saying pretty much the same information. Just in different ways. I feel Aurora Service is a little easier to use and the site format is easier on the eyes during night time viewing.
Taking pictures of them is also fun. However, you need to do it right. Like taking pictures of the night sky, you need to know what you are doing. Taking a picture isn’t as easy as point and click. If the camera does fire you will probably not see a good image of the lights or you might not see anything at all. The lights tend to not be bright enough and the shutter has to stay open to collect more photons.
Any movement will blur the image horribly. So unless you are going for some kind of art piece of a super blurry green image your need a tripod and remote shutter button. There is a lot more to it than just this. Here is an article I found that is really comprehensive. I believe there is even an ebook with it. It’s a good read if you are going to give it a shot.
Finding the lights outside of the arctic circle is a real treat and very rare, but it is possible and it is worth the effort to go outside the city to have a good look at them. If you find them you won’t be sorry and it’s a memory your kids will have forever.
*Image Source: By Ximonic (Simo Räsänen) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons