So one of the reasons that I wanted to go to Iceland in March (end of Winter) is because I heard it was the last month you could really see the Northern Lights. I was also told that the Northern Lights go through 10 year cycles and that this year was going to be the last year that we are able to see the Northern Lights well for the next 10 years! As soon as my friend told me this, I booked my trip to Iceland a week or 2 later. No joke. It was a major bucket list item and I did NOT want to miss seeing them.
Little did I know that there was a lot more into seeing the Northern Lights than just showing up in Iceland during Winter. It turns out... it is complete luck. ESPECIALLY in Iceland. I say that because the weather in Iceland is SUPER unpredictable. It changes by the hour. When I got to Iceland, I was SO worried that I wasn't going to see them because the forecast was not in our favor by the time we got there. I ended up finding out about a website where it tells you what the Aurora Borealis is rated for that day and where the clouds are covering Iceland at that moment. I just kept refreshing the site to check the clouds. As it turns out, the entire time I was there, the Northern Lights were never rated to be stronger than a 3 but mostly a 1 or 2. I was desperate to see them though. The first night we were in Iceland, we got talking to our roommates in our hostel. They were also wanting to see them pretty bad, but didn't seem too worried because they had signed up for a tour to see them on one of their last nights there and if they cancelled the night they were supposed to go they could go the next night free of charge. However, I convinced them to come with us. I told them I wanted to search of them every night that there were no clouds because I would hate to not see them and we just had no idea what they weather would continue to be like the rest of our time there.
So we checked the app and saw that there were no clouds out towards the airport. So we headed away from the city lights and clouds and found a dark spot to wait and see if they would show up. Before the trip I read somewhere that having a full moon makes it so you can't see them as well. So I checked the moon cycle before my trip and it was going to be close to a full moon while I was there which made me worry more. Turns out, that is a myth. You can see them just fine, and for pictures it is kind of awesome because you can not only see the lights in the sky, but the foreground is lit up by the moon, so you can capture both nicely. Anyway, like I said, we drove off the free to a dirt road to wait in the dark. We ran into these older British Men waiting for the same thing. So we figured it was a good spot. I was glad we ran into them because not only were they hilarious... but they had more knowledge about it than we did because they were out previous nights watching them. It was freezing, but we were determined to see a show.
They were there, but I had a hard time seeing them at first. Another thing that I didn't know about this trip before I went is that the Northern Lights can be different colors, including a light grey. You can easily mistake them for clouds if you are not paying attention to how they are moving. So I was having a hard time spotting them at first. But then I took a picture of it and it turned out green in my camera even though I saw them as grey. What? Yep! So we set up camp right there and I got out my SLR camera and my tripod so that I could get some better shots. Kyle was also nice enough to let me borrow a better lens for night photography... as good as my camera is going to do anyway. THEN I saw green in the sky. For about 15 or 20 minutes (it was close to 1:30am at this point) the Aurora Borealis came out and danced in the sky... just like people describe it. It was magical. I as so glad we went that night. Because guess what? We didn't end up seeing them any other night because it was too cloudy. So glad I convinced everyone to go that night even though we had all just flown in and were so tired.
Was it the display I was hoping for? No. Was it still awesome? Yes. It just gave me this tiny taste of it and now I want more. I am totally going to chase after the Northern Lights again. If the going away for 10 years thing isn't true... I may even try again next year... I don't know if I would try to see them in Iceland again because it is so unpredictable (the weather)... maybe next time I will chase them in Alaska or Canada or Sweden. Who knows... but I am not done chasing them. I am so thankful that I got to see them while I was there. I was so worried I wouldn't see them at all. Aurora, thanks for coming out for me, even just for a little bit. I will for sure be seeing you again. And hopefully by then I will have a better camera to capture you with.