The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, is one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena. Nothing quite compares to the multi coloured, luminous display of slowly flickering light above the northern sky and if you have seen it in person, consider yourself lucky. Sudbury is a great place to view the Northern Lights since it’s far enough north to see the lights regularly but not so far north that it’s too cold to enjoy the experience.

Northern Lights displays don’t happen every night, and they’re not always the same colour, shape or intensity. The reason we see these beautiful lights in the night sky has to do with solar activity. The sun constantly sends out solar winds which are made up of charged particles and every now and then, there’s a huge blast of solar wind that hits our planet. The earth’s magnetic field redirects most of the incoming energy but some of it squeaks through and produces these spectacular light shows.

Witnessing these light shows and capturing their beauty in a photograph is something very familiar to area photographer, Sarah Furchner. You can tell by looking at her photos that she has a knack for knowing when to head out into the night, camera gear in hand. While it’s difficult to predict the visible aurora with certainty, there are plenty of online resources to help you decide when to get outside and gaze at the northern sky.

“I use Aurora Alerts to find out when there is activity in my area, the notifications go directly to my phone so it’s a really convenient service,” said Sarah. Other sources of real-time info include Aurora-Service, and the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The forecast shows a high likelihood of auroral displays… what next? You’ll need an unobstructed view of the north sky, the lower you can see on the horizon the better. An area that has low levels of light pollution is ideal but not totally necessary. “The northern lights can appear after dark with little or no warning, but I tend to have good luck between 10:00 p.m. and midnight.”

Thinking of capturing a photograph of the northern lights? “A sturdy tripod is an absolute necessity if you want sharp photos. The other requirement is a camera that allows you to use manual settings, such as a large aperture and a long exposure.” With some practice and patience you can capture a beautiful photographic memento.

We hope you’re inspired to get out and see the Aurora Borealis for yourself, show us your best shots of the night sky on social media!

A big thanks to Sarah Furchner for collaborating on this blog post, check out more of her impressive work here:

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