Tromsø – Judgement Day

Tromsø – Judgement Day

Rational or not, to me, the success of this entire trip hinges upon whether or not we get to see the Northern Lights tonight. It was important to me that Faith’s only “ask” was fulfilled, and that she didn’t have to make another trip to Alaska just to see the aurora borealis.

After our Ice Dome bus dropped us off back in town at 4PM, we had 2 hours to check back into the hotel, take a shower, and get ready for our 6PM Chasing Lights minibus pick up. I tried not to get my hopes up, but I had overheard a guest at the Ice Dome remarking that they heard that today would be a good day for lights. Hearsay, I know. But rationality goes out the window in the face of desperation.

Having gone through the same exercise just 2 nights ago, I knew that we were headed into Finland again.

This rock marks the Norway/Finland border. Hard to fathom something simple as this demarcating the US southern border with Mexico.

This time we drove into Finland, and was informed that we were not able to outrun the cloud cover that kept pace with us. Luckily, signs of clear skies were behind us in Norway. So the minibus turned around and brought us back to the border to wait things out.

Two hours later…

A wisp poked through.

And for the next hour, it was a nonstop light show. OK, I will be honest. It was quite underwhelming for me. The reality is that the cones in our eyes are not sensitive enough at picking up colors at night. All I saw were what looked like grey contrails in the sky. Luckily, with the advent of cameras, which are much more sensitive, I was able to enjoy this natural phenomenon a bit more.

Perhaps others had better cones than I. They were much more enthused.
Video courtesy of Peggy.

Progression throughout the hour…


By this time, most guests had had enough and were ready to head back. Luckily our guide, Jonas, wasn’t quite done. As we were driving back, he spotted something and told the driver to stop.

Le pièce de résistance as seen through the iPhone.

Amusingly, this was the same night as lights were reported all over northern UK, Denmark, upstate New York, Ohio, Montana, Michigan, and Seattle. The following morning while at the airport, we met a lady from Manchester who told us that she hadn’t seen the aurora borealis at all during her entire visit to Tromsø, yet her daughter in the UK had the night before. At this point, I am just glad our gamble paid off, because I’d be racked with guilt had we not seen the lights on this trip. Dancing contrails or not…

2 thoughts on “Tromsø – Judgement Day

  1. Yes we’ve just had a few nights of almost unprecedented sights if the aurora here in the UK. We live in the south so we can’t ever remember it happening this far south before. Unfortunately we missed it – on the first night, we didn’t know it was coming and on the remaining nights it was cloudy here. So hear yet so far! Glad your trip produced the goods in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

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