Spectacular polar lights over Iceland

By Martin Rietze, March 2005


Clip 1                  Clip 2

The month February showed a long-continuous unusual weather situation. Also the partial strong solar activity of the last months let hope for a stronger northern light activity. On the way in a sunspot minimum this trip would perhaps be the last chance to observe phantastic polar lights. The sun prognoses and the polar light forecast briefly before the departure was very low. However the polar light forecast was confirmed, and no sunspots and a minimum activity produced in the first days only weak lights deeply on the north horizon.


In the night of the 5th to 6th everything should change. Further no sunspots were present, but a corona hole permitted the entrance  of the solar wind in the terrestrial atmosphere. In this night I had the luck, standing directly under the center of the light curtains.  Dancing elbows with numerous razor-sharp red points, spirals and curtains were changing in milli seconds.


Anyway, when already all films and CF memory cards were full I realized that a light spectacle like this could no be illustrated with any camera.


This impression which can not be described with words demoted all my past nature impressions. From full moon-bright bolides to the total sun eclipses, this nocturnal ecperience was only in comparision with the observation of a volcanic ongoing from a closer range.

All shown photographs were taken up with a Canon 20D camera, with a 20mm f:1,8 wide angle and a 10,5mm f:2,8 OD fish eye. Even this full format fish eye could not catch the whole active area! The exposure times were between 8-15 seconds about 800-1600 ASP.


In the night from the 3rd to the 4th of march a full moon-bright bolide was seen coming down by the lyra going in the north from the zenith. This enlighted the landscape clearly, which can be clarly seen on the picture series “. Unfortunately the bolide turned down some degrees on the right of the screen window.

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 ©photos & text by  Martin Rietze , Webbl and translation Th. Böckel ,last modification 25.3.2005

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