Nature & Environment Aug 29, 2018

Seeing the Northern Lights for the First Time

Guest post by Liz Zorn

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Waiting, crammed in the rental car, we didn’t have any idea what to expect. It was the night of January 16, 2015, and we were hoping to see the Northern Lights on our trip to Iceland.

We arrived at the Grotta Lighthouse, only about ten minutes outside of Reykjavik, around 9:30 PM. The skies were clear, revealing thousands of bright stars, and it was rather windy and cold. We got out of the car to check the sky every so often, then got back in to warm up. We repeated this several times, waiting in anticipation and singing songs and playing games to pass the time.

A little after midnight, everyone was tired and getting ready to soon give up. We still didn’t even know what we were looking for. My uncle announced that he was going to go out and check again. After a few seconds, he came back and opened the door and said, “I think they’re showing up! Grab your stuff, let’s go!” We were all slightly confused, but scrambled to get out of the car. He pointed in the sky where there was a light, cloud-looking shape stretching across the sky. You would’ve mistaken it for a cloud if it didn’t have the slight green tint to it. I wasn’t even totally sure that it was really the lights at first look, but it didn’t look like a normal cloud, so I kept investigating it. Sure enough, it started becoming more and more green, growing brighter and brighter, and I could even see it start moving a little. I set up my camera on it’s tripod, and then it hit me: I was standing under the Northern Lights in Iceland!

It was the most incredible magic I have ever experienced. In that moment, I forgot about the cold and the wind. I watched as the lights moved in a ribbon-like fashion across the dark sky, and could think about nothing else. At one point, I noticed there were a good amount of people standing around me, but that it was silent – everyone was in the same state of awe that I was in. We were all sharing the moment together, but at the same time experiencing it in our own ways. I lost track of time under those lights. I watched them until they faded away and the sky returned to the normal dark sky I was so used to. It felt like a dream, or maybe an illusion. I have since become incredibly fascinated by the Northern Lights, and seeing them one time isn’t enough for me – I dream to see them again!