A display of northern lights can be spectacular — curtains and waves of colors on the sky — often against a mountainous landscape or above a sheet of sparkling ice. This awe-inspiring phenomenon is created by electrically charged particles from the Sun colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere.

Sky & Telescope offers readers a range of articles helping them to understand, spot, and photograph these celestial dancing lights. A number of websites provide aurora alerts for your area. We’ll help you with the next step: staying warm and utilizing your camera to the best of its ability by capturing this celestial dance on film. Sky & Telescope even offers tours to catch a glimpse of the fiery spectacle in unique geological sites.

Blue Lagoon

Iceland: Fire, Ice, and the Aurora

Until recently, the wonders of Iceland went largely unnoticed. Today, this small North Atlantic island is blossoming into a destination noted for its wealth of natural beauty — explosive geysers, gurgling mud pools, snakelike lava flows, majestic waterfalls, towering glaciers, steaming thermal baths, and magnificent northern lights. On November 1, 2002, thirty travelers journeyed to…

Auroral curtain

Satisfy Your Auroral Longing

If you don’t live in Alaska or Iceland, you can improve your chances of seeing an aurora — and maximize your amount of sleep — by monitoring the level of geomagnetic activity.

Rayed auroral band

Photographing the Aurora

Photographing the aurora is not that difficult, but it does require a combination of the correct lens, the proper ISO (film) speed, the right exposure, and (of course) a cooperative auroral display.