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See the best northern lights photos of 2023

Northern lights photos: A lighthouse along a shoreline under vertical red and green streaks above distant clouds, the aurora reflected on the water.
Kat Lawman captured this image over Wales in the U.K. and wrote: “I set up my tripod next to a small pool of seawater, focusing on capturing reflections. I had to endure a few rain showers. But my efforts and perseverance paid off. Huge green and pink light pillars shot out of the sky. Completely mesmerizing!” Image via Capture the Atlas. See more of the best northern lights photos below.

Best northern lights photos of 2023

The peak of the sun’s 11-year cycle could come as early as 2024. And – if you’ve been following EarthSky’s daily sun news post – you know that auroras (both northern and southern lights) have been brightening high-latitude skies. From his travel photography blog Capture the Atlas, Dan Zafra shared with EarthSky his picks for the 25 best aurora images of 2023 from photographers around the world. The submissions here are from eight countries, including Australia and New Zealand. You can see the full set of 25 images at Zafra’s website.

Do you have a great image of the aurora to share? You can submit it to us at EarthSky Community Photos.

The 2024 lunar calendars are here! Best Christmas gifts in the universe! Check ’em out here.

Gatklettur Northern Lights by Stefano Pellegrini

Green curls of light in a night sky over a rocky scene with a rock arch over distant water.
Stefano Pellegrini took this image from Gatklettur, Iceland. Stefano wrote: “Arriving at the location after dark, I parked the car and prepared my sleeping bag. Despite being up since 4 a.m., I set my alarm clock to wake me every hour in anticipation of a Kp5 forecast for the night. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. on my own and spotted green hues from the car window. I hurried out, shooting frantically to seize the opportunity. After a night of running around various locations, at 5 a.m. in the morning, I returned to the beach for another composition.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Lost Who I Want To Be by Jordan McInally

Red and yellow glowing arc of light above mountainous horizon with the Milky Way and a person in silhouette.
Jordan McInally took this image from Moke Lake, New Zealand. Jordan wrote: “I was pretty lucky this night to have a few friends message me a heads up that a big aurora australis was forecast. So I had just enough time to rush to this local spot with a painfully steep ascent, watching beams start to dance across the horizon as the sunlight was fading! I spent around 5 hours up here and had this whole ridge to myself, shooting over 300 frames of all manner of beams and colors as the show was constantly changing!” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Beauty of the North by Elena Ermolina

Snow piled on stones near a creek with evergreen trees and purple and green aurora in the background.
Elena Ermolina took this photo from Kola Peninsula, Russia. Elena wrote: “On that beautiful night, the sky was painted green by the northern lights and their ethereal dance. The aurora was casting an incredible glow over the natural elements in the landscape. In this breathtaking moment, I managed to capture the celestial spectacle with my camera, which revealed even more colors than my eyes could see.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

March Michigan Nights by Justin Miller

Arch of Milky Way and pink and yellow and auroral beams at horizon with a barn and a snowy road in the foreground.
Justin Miller took this image from Glen Arbor, Michigan. Justin wrote: “Heading to this area in my home state in Michigan, I noticed a new G1 aurora watch for the night. To secure the best lookout for the sky, I climbed a nearby sand dune just up the road from the barn. The aurora exhibited a nice glow right after dark … then it began to slowly dance with tall pillars moving across the sky! I seized the tall pillars with a shorter exposure. It was a spectacular night!” Image via Capture the Atlas.

The dance of the green lady by Luis Cajete

Several vertical curtain-like green streaks in night sky over a landscape with a tall, narrow waterfall in the distance.
Luis Cajete took this image from Haifoss, Iceland. Luis wrote: “Witnessing a great northern lights display is an absolutely stunning experience. I took this picture at a beautiful waterfall in Iceland called Haifoss. The strong wind made photography challenging. After an almost cloudless sunset, we took refuge in our camper van to rest and have a warm meal. When we saw the first green lights through the window, we jumped outside. The sky exploded above us. It was a dream come true to witness such incredible northern lights in a place like this.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

The Red Flame by Laura Oppelt

Band of vertical red and green streamers on the horizon glinting off water with log breakwater in the foreground.
Laura Oppelt took this image in Wadden Sea National Parks, Germany. Laura wrote: “It’s still hard to believe that I witnessed such a strong aurora show this far south from the Arctic Circle. At a certain point, everything in the sky seemed to explode, and I couldn’t help but scream out loudly on the beach in pure excitement and disbelief! Experiencing such an intense show in Germany was truly awesome. I’m grateful to have witnessed this special event in my home country on a small island in the North Sea. The horizon is illuminated by lots of ships anchoring nearby overnight, and the clearly visible aurora makes this image special and meaningful to me.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Bakers Oven Aurora Australis by Josh Beames

Pink and green light below small fuzzy glowing patch in sky and above rocky shoreline with a rock arch.
Josh Beames took this image from Bakers Oven, Australia. Josh wrote: “I just recently noticed that the sun had emitted a massive solar flare which looked to be heading in Earth’s direction. I kept an eye on the charts and was excited to see that it would be a direct hit, granting a great opportunity to capture the elusive southern lights! We made our way along the Great Ocean Road to Bakers Oven, where were treated to an absolute show after sunset.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Waning Sun by Alex Wides

Green auroral streamers tinged with red in a fish-eye view over rocky landscape and large ponds of water.
Alex Wides took this image from Senja Island, Norway. Alex wrote: “A 300-degree panorama … Embarking on a 3-month journey from Italy to the Great North, you anticipate witnessing incredible sights, but this trip surpassed all my expectations. The horizon is glowing with the light of the setting sun. In September, it sets at 11:00 p.m., painting the sky in vibrant shades of green, purple and red. This shot encapsulates the essence of the journey, capturing the beauty of an extraordinary adventure on one unforgettable evening with my family and 2 dogs, witnessing an awe-inspiring spectacle.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Lady in Pink by Kenneth LeRose

Glowing pink and purple on horizon and curious polygonal salt formations on the desert floorr in the foreground.
Kenneth LeRose took this image in Death Valley, California. Kenneth wrote: “I really didn’t believe I’d see the aurora at the lowest altitude point in the U.S. I parked at Badwater Basin just before blue hour and gathered a tripod and camera. As I got halfway to my destination, I started seeing some faint lights in the sky. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I stopped and took a test shot and there it was! Pink pillars in the sky! This was my favorite still frame taken from this memorable night.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Bottom line: The blog Capture the Atlas announced its 2023 Northern Lights Photographer of the Year contest. This annual edition showcases 25 of the best aurora photos taken from all over the world. See some of the best northern lights photos in the world here.

Via Capture the Atlas

December 10, 2023
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