Archive for September, 2011

Visitors in September

For the third year in a row, I had visitors coming early in September – and for the third year in a row they were incredibly lucky with the weather! Two years ago, Gert-Jan and Célia were here, and last year my brother and his girlfriend came for a visit. Last week, my uncle Joop came with his friend Pieter. We had sunny and very mild (up to 18 degrees Celsius!) weather almost every day.

On their first day here, we walked to the city centre. It was sunny and warm, but very windy at times. We wanted to have a coffee outside, but we had to choose our place wisely, or the coffee would have blown out of the cups ;)

Tromsø city centre on a beautiful sunny (but windy!) day

We visited the Polar Museum, my favourite museum in town. Joop and Pieter enjoyed it too :)

Joop getting friendly with a hunter in the Polar Museum Joop getting ready to fight a polar bear

The next day we drove to Sommarøy. It was still very windy in Tromsø, and we hardly wanted to get out of the car when we stopped at Håkøya. But at Sommarøy there was hardly any wind at all, and the reflections in the water were beautiful. We had lunch at the cafe there, then walked around a bit to look at some big fishing boats. Unfortunately it started to rain quite heavily, so we drove back to Tromsø.

On the way to Sommarøy, we stopped at Håkøya bridge. It was very windy there! While there was hardly any wind at Sommarøy... lovely reflections in the water!

Friday was their last day in Tromsø, as they were taking the Hurtigruten south to Trondheim that evening. It was another sunny day, so we decided to take the cable car up and walk around the top for a bit. Beautiful views!

Another beautiful day, and we took the cable car up. This is the city centre seen from the top of the cable car. Pieter and Joop admiring the view Pieter taking a break during our walk

Of course I took another panorama ;) I have many of these now, but I still think it looks different every time!

Of course I had to take another panorama of the island - as if I don't have plenty of these already ;) Still it looks different every time!

Joop and Pieter were hoping to see the northern lights, but so far we hadn’t been very lucky. It was either cloudy, or there was no activity. On Friday night though, all the forecasts were showing enormous activity, there was a geomagnetic storm going on! AND apart from some high clouds, it was clear! We soon decided to head to the jetty at Telegrafbukta and hope for the best. Thanks to the quick communication through Facebook, Eelke and Roy were there too :) And not much later, my colleague Nick arrived.  The more, the merrier – especially when you have to wait!

It took a while, but finally our patience was rewarded… slowly a few green beams were appearing, and after a while it got more active.

And there it was! The blue/purple colour was hardly visible with the naked eye, but showed up in many photos It was getting stronger, showing reflections in the water too

The moon was almost full, but it wasn’t disturbing the show at all. The lights weren’t always very bright, but they were very active, often all over the sky. In our photos, we could also see that there was a green glow all over the southern horizon – so they must have been visible much further south than usual. The solar activity is reaching its maximum soon, to be expected in 2012/2013. This season is going to be great :)

The moon was almost full, but the aurora was strong enough to show anyway Often the auroras were not very bright, but they were visible all over the sky!

At times we didn’t know where to look, and we were spinning around in order not to miss anything. It was even active right overhead!

Another outburst in the north And a snake in the other direction...

Sometimes all we could see was one beam near the horizon, but the activity would always come back. We were watching for about 1.5 hours!

Sometimes all we could see was one beam like this... Roy took this photo, showing Joop and Pieter on the right, Eelke in the middle, and my colleague Nick on the left. I am hiding somewhere :D

After midnight, the activity started decreasing, and it was also time for Joop and Pieter to go to the Hurtigruten for their journey south. Luckily, we had already put their luggage in the car, so we could drive straight from Telegrafbukta to the city centre. I was so happy that they were able to see the northern lights – and not just a little bit, they got an amazing show!

For more northern light photos of that evening: click here for Eelke & Roy’s photos, and here for Nick’s.

The return of the Lights

The northern lights are back! Well actually they have been back for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t get to see them yet. I saw some weak northern lights 2 days ago, which turned out to be “deep-sky auroras”. I didn’t take any photos, but someone else did – see Fredrik Broms’s photos here.

Last night I missed a great show, but tonight I finally got lucky. I was working a late shift when the northern lights appeared. They were very strong while I was driving home, so I ran inside the house just to grab my camera and tripod and drove to Telegrafbukta to get some photos. Of course the lights had almost disappeared by then ;) but I waited patiently and they came back. This is a great time of the year to watch them. It’s beautiful when the sky still has some light in them, and with temperatures over 10 degrees it’s comfortable outside – no need for gloves :D

Auroras against the sunset sky - this was at 23:25 and it's still not dark At some point, the aurora got stronger and moved around quite a lot With an exposure time of only 5 seconds, you can see the structure of the aurora much better

These are the first northern light photos taken with my new camera – I recently replaced my Canon EOS 350D with the EOS 600D – and I am very pleased with it. I also took a photo of the starry sky to the south. With an exposure time of 1 minute, the stars start to show as small trails.

Starry night

I have to be back at work by 8 tomorrow morning, so I better get some sleep now :)