How To See & Photograph The Northern Lights In Iceland

Have you ever dreamed about seeing the colorful aurora borealis dancing in the night sky? Here’s how to find & photograph the amazing Northern Lights in Iceland!

Witnessing the magic of the northern lights at least once is a bucket-list experience for most people. I’ve been lucky enough to see and photograph the “Aurora Borealis” multiple times in a few different countries — including Iceland.

The northern lights can transfix you for hours, watching their mysterious green glow dance in the sky over the mountains or the sea.

Tracking down and shooting amazing photos of the northern lights in Iceland is always a top priority when I visit!

However many people don’t realize that this incredible natural phenomenon can often be elusive and unpredictable.

How To Find The Northern Lights In Iceland

So why are the northern lights so difficult to see, even in Iceland? Well, it’s because there are many different factors involved.

For the optimal northern lights experience, you need a combination of dark skies, clear weather, and strong aurora activity. Ensuring that all these requirements come together takes some planning.

Seek Out Dark Skies

For the same reason star-gazing is better when it’s dark out, viewing the northern lights is best in the dark too. Light pollution from cities & towns hinders the experience.

Yes, you might be able to see the lights from Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik occasionally. However you’ll have more luck in the countryside away from man-made light sources.

Avoid The Full Moon

If you can, try to avoid seeking out the northern lights during a full moon. The brightness of the moon can make it more difficult to see the aurora in the sky.

Also, remember that the moon rises and sets like the sun. So you can try and time your northern lights hunting when the moon is hidden away below the horizon for maximum darkness.

My favorite smartphone app for checking the moon rise and moon set schedule around the world is called The Photographer’s Ephemeris.

That said, sometimes a little bit of moonlight from a 1/4 moon can light up the background landscape just enough to create some spectacular images too!

Wait For Clear Weather

If the weather is overly cloudy, you won’t be able to find the northern lights. So pay attention to the weather forecast, especially cloud cover (infrared satellite maps help a lot).

While you might still see some aurora lights if it’s only partly cloudy, you’ll have the best chance when there are no clouds at all.

My favorite smartphone app for checking cloud cover conditions around the world is called MeteoEarth.

Check The Aurora Forecast

Because aurora activity comes down from the sun in space, scientists are able to predict how strong it will be by looking at our sun’s solar wind, and the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field. This “KP-Index” ranges from 0-9.

In my experience, you might have some luck seeing the northern lights in Iceland when the KP Index is 3 or 4. If you are lucky enough to be there when a solar storm hits (KP 5+), then you’ll have quite a show!

My favorite smartphone app for predicting the aurora is called My Aurora Forecast Pro.

It gives push notifications when there’s a chance to see the lights near you!

For worldwide aurora predictions, Space Weather Ovation is also good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *