Don't panic, you can read and watch from the comfort of your home. However this article will encourage you in every way to go outside and take in a deep breath of fresh air, for winter nights hold many unravelled secrets...
Winter is renowned for being the season of quietness, sleep and cold in the northern hemisphere. Most animals and plants have entered a state of dormancy to pass the harsh conditions. As the Earth revolves around the Sun, it is at its closest, but the slight tilt of our planet is enough to plunge mid and high latitudes into long hours of darkness. Why go outside when you can be warm and comfortable at home? Well because if you don’t you will probably miss many spectacles and displays mother nature has to offer. The wait is no more. Grab your boots, gloves, beanies and warmest clothes, and step into the wonders of the Danish winter nights.
On the menu: colorful sunsets, scenic frozen landscapes, super moons, aurora borealis, milky way and other winter deep-sky objects. I tried to compile everything in a time-lapse movie to prove how mesmerizing the winter night sky can be, no matter how cold it is outside!
Most sequences of deep-sky objects like the Andromeda Galaxy and the North-American Nebula have been tracked with iOptron Skytracker to enable great nebulosity detail, in spite of compromising weather conditions (low clouds, haze, fog and due). You might even be able to notice some other remarkable sky phenomena like green flash, moon halo, meteorites, and at 02:32, one of my favorite shots: some swans were foraging in the shallow under the Swan constellation (Cygnus) and the aurora. Watch the video here:
All shots have been recorded from mid-December until now and represent around 10,000 pictures and hours of editing. I used Sony a7r2, Sony a7s and Canon 6D for the shoot.
As for me, I have traveled to Vermont, USA for a week with my students, but the weather and the schedule have not enabled me to take pictures. However on the plane back home, I knew I had to peep through the north-side window at some point because some fast solar winds could have given some cool aurora. Our route passed rather south of Greenland and Iceland, but I was watching closely. I was sitting on the right-hand side of the aircraft, aka the wrong side to watch the northern lights, and no window seats was available on the other side, so I had to make my way to the rear of the plane and ask the stewart to take pictures from the door window. At first she didn't really grasp what I was after, but I showed her some of the first pictures and was in awe. She gave me a blanket to cache out the disturbing green light on the door and to stabilize my camera. It took my first shot at photographing and time-lapsing the night sky from an airplane window. I'll give you that: it is not easy. My shutter speed could not be more than 3 seconds at 28mm without getting blurry images. I set my ISO at 4000 and started shooting. Twenty minutes later, the show surfaced on the horizon and without being the display of the century, it gave a really cool ISS effect as my plane was crossing the clouded ocean. Just watch the short sequence here:
I also managed to somehow photograph the Andromeda galaxy in the aurora (just like a small project I had last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YI2vZkgh58)
Ever since I got back home in Denmark, the weather has been the most uncooperative: a relentless blanket of low clouds is clinging onto Scandinavia and hasn't released its grip in 6 days now, making it impossible to go out and shoot. It caused some of my fellow photographer and myself to stay stranded at home and just watch the apparently great aurora show from my Twitter feed... Luckily for me I booked a trip to Iceland with my roomie starting next Saturday for a week, where I hope to get amazing pictures and footage. I'll tell you more in my next update (Oh and yes: I have recently received my newly Baader astro-modified Canon 6D and I can't wait to try it and tell you all about it!)