Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Well, I had to wait until the end of January, but I finally got to see the Northern lights in Iceland. I had seen them in Tromso, Norway in October but not in Iceland... I was considering filing a formal complaint to the tourist office in Reykjavík for false advertising.
But last weekend, as we got clear weather and the coldest temperatures yet this winter (it dropped slightly under -10 at some point in Rekjavík, I believe), I finally saw them! I got a phone call from a friend alerting me to the appearance of the lights (yes, I am on a call-when-Northern-lights-appear list) and I managed to take a few pictures as we were on our way out of the house. You'll have to excuse the blurriness because I did not use a tripod, and it takes a long exposure to get a picture of the lights. Note that the lights appear a bit brighter in the pictures than they do in real life, but not by that much.
They might look still in the pictures, but they move pretty quickly, like sheets or curtains. They can change in intensity quite quickly also, so if you know they're out there, don't wait :).
We also saw them the next day on the drive back from Stokkseyri (45 minutes SE of Reykjavík, with the best lobster restaurant in the nation!). We had the advantage of the open sky and very little ambient light, so it was great seeing them playing around in the sky. According to Inuit beliefs, the Northern lights represent your ancestors playing with a ball of yarn. I like that interpretation. Although I think I would substitute giant invisible metaphysical cats instead of the ancestors, but that's just me.