We haven’t talked much about Iceland on our blog, but this country has been our second home in the last 3 years. This year was our 3rd season of Aurora Chasing, and the second that lasted for more than 3 weeks. We decided to take notes and keep a diary about the Northern Lights activity each night we’ve been in Iceland.
I hope that our diary will shed some light for you when it comes to what it means to chase the lights. How many days out of those 24 have we seen the lights and how many have we seen nothing but the stars or clouds? Let’s find out!
October 14, 2023
Taking photos of the Northern Lights is hard. Taking photos of the Northern Lights while in the plane is even harder! Pardon the low quality of the photos.
October 15, 2023
Drove a lot, seen almost nothing.
October 16, 2023
We had very low expectations after yesterday, almost not interested in going out. However we checked the forecast and it looked promising so out we went at around 21:00. The aurora was already quite intense as we could see it straight from the street with all the lights around us. We went somehwere darker and then the real spectacle started. Words can’t describe enough the beauty of the lights and the feelings we had being under them.
Day 4, 5, 6
October 20, 2023
The forecast was favorable, so we hoped for the best and went out chasing the lights. They were there, but nothing too spectacular after seeing the show on day 3. We watched and hoped for more, but some clouds came in taking over the sky.
October 21, 2023
Went out just before 21:00 with some snacks and patiently waited for the aurora to appear. The lights started out shy, but then we had a bit of a show, something that would have impressed us last season. But after our day 3 this year, we still hope to see more. The most impressive view of the evening was a strong blue meteor. We all seen “falling stars” in our lives, but this meteor was no usual meteor, it was a true fireball. The light trace was thick and bright and suddenly it looked like it exploded or caught fire making a bright turquoise blue light. Since you can never record the best moments when they happen, we don’t have any recording of it, but it seems that the blue turquoise color means that it was primarily made of magnesium.
October 22, 2023
The IMF and solar activity are extremely favorable for a great aurora. The clouds are our only obstacle, we’ll have to drive to find a clear place and hope that the solar activity and the IMF will stay the same when it gets dark. We went out at 18:30, found a place with clear sky some 30 minutes drive away, but the sky was still not dark enough. Even so you could tell that the lights were very active on the sky. Around 19:45 the sky turned black, but the solar activity stopped. Not much to see now. The activity picked up a bit later, it was not the most impressive, but definitely something to watch, better than yesterday and the day before. At around 20:45 clouds were coming in so we drove for about 10 minutes to another position. The sky here had less clouds but the aurora stopped completely although the KP-index was 5. 21:45 nothing to see and hungry, we’re calling it a day.
October 23, 2023
The forecast is not promising, but we could see an unexpected aurora through the window of our house so we decided to go out. The lights were high up on the sky, above our heads, which you don’t always get to see. Most of the times when there is low activity the aurora is somewhere towards the North, not to high from the horizon. However the lights were not too bright and colorful at our location.
October 24, 2023
Raining, no aurora activity forecasted anyway.
October 25, 2023
Cloud coverage is 100% and KP index 0. Nothing to see.
October 26, 2023
Great things come to those who wait! The aurora forecast didn’t look promising, but the sky was clear, so why stay inside? We started around 21:00 and changed 2 locations. The first one was close to the ocean and had a mountain to our North and had the feeling that the shy aurora is hiding behind the mountain, so we went up.
We drove on a hill with a good vantage point. Shortly the aurora turned into a strong green, but it was just a slim ribbon close the the horizon towards north. We were almost going to call it a day at 22:30 thinking that the forecast was right.
But the magic happened. The lights covered 3/4 of the sky. Some parts of the sky were just a shaded green, but there were places where the lights danced and turned pink. The show went on for 30-40 minutes, and even afterwards we still witnessed some short waves of intense colorful aurora, including one with an almost red color.
00:20 we’re going to sleep. Was this aurora more impressive than the one on October 16th? It depends who you ask. That aurora was so bright on a huge part of the sky that it lit up the ground around us almost like switching the light on. However it only lasted for a few minutes. The aurora today had its bright parts, but on a smaller area. However it lasted for more than half an hour and the whole show was spreaded on almost the entire sky.
October 27, 2023
We’ve been out the entire evening until 22:45 and there’s just very little activity. The lights are barely visible. Towards the end some clouds took over the sky, but I doubt we would have seen any aurora tonight. However, we were able to take one of the most beautiful shots of the Milky Way.
October 28, 2023
The northern lights started to be visible as early as 18:40. Wow. The activity is so high tonight. We waited for the sky to get darker and went out at 19:30.
There was quite a lot of activity between 19:45 and 21:30. The lights were intense and spreaded on a huge part of the sky, however they were just green, no pink, no red, just green, but a very intense one. Then we changed position because some clouds were also coming in. However the IMF is not strong enough anymore and the lights were so faded that they almost look like some clouds, although covering the entire sky. Although we hope to see more colorful auroras, the lights we had today were also intense and spectacular.
October 29, 2023
The forecasted KP index for today is high, but quite late, at around 23:00 hopefully. We went out way earlier because there are some clouds and we knew it will take us time to get rid of them. We also hoped to see some activity at least at 22, but the lights were completely quiet. 23:30 there is absolutely no aurora and the sky is getting cloudy. I think this is the first night when we don’t see any activity, except nights when cloud coverag was 100%
October 30, 2023
It has been raining all the day. The entire island is covered with clouds.
October 31, 2023
We spotted a small patch of clear sky (or at least no low and mid clouds) on the map. We know it is a long shot, but why bot give it a try. We went through some heavy rain with strong winds, got out of it, then spotted a star, and another one, and another one. We stopped. There was a small part of the sky that had just some high clouds. The aurora was there on the sky. Not strong enough and a lot under the low and mid clouds. We’ve been hopeful and waited, but shortly our clear patch of sky started shrinking. That was it!
November 1, 2023
Went out to chase the aurora, but there were high clouds almost anywhere. Even so there was just too litle activity to see something.
November 2, 2023
There should have been clouds, at least high clouds, but the sky was quite clear I would say. However the lights were very shy and the moon bright. We waited in the car for more than 1h, the moon went over a hill and the aurora appeared, but then quickly faded away. Only a slight white trace remained, almost like a cloud.
Another hour later, the light brightened up and became quite beautiful. Not the most impressive aurora that we’ve seen, but still very nice.
However, the wind was very strong and all the photos are quite shaky. Even though the car showed 3 degrees, the real feel was -6 because of the strong wind. Once we got closer to Reykjavik we’ve seen the moon again setting under the city. The view was very impressive as the moon had an almost orange color and appears to be immense.
November 3, 2023
Today we went out quite early because there were some good solar winds and no clouds.
Indeed the aurora was very beautiful, it covered the entire sky, even towards South, and even with the bright moon on it. The lights didn’t turn pink or red, but the green show was spectacular as well.
One of the most beautiful auroras that we’ve seen so far. Tonight we’ve also seen more falling stars than we could count.
November 4, 2023
The entire area is covered by high clouds. Not ideal, but when it comes to high clouds, they are usually spreaded across the sky eith patches of clear sky here in there, leaving some chances to see the lights (if there are any). The KP index is forecasted 5 starting with 21:00 until 23:00, so we kept an eye on the solar winds and in the sky, but there was almost no activity last night, but lots of clouds.
November 5, 2023
The forecasted KP index for today is high. A value of 5 sounds extremely promising, but the KP index forecast often means nothing. In the end there was absolutely no activity
November 6, 2023
This is our last day chasing the Northern Lights and unfortunately the forecast and the current activity are not looking promising at all. I don’t think we’ll see anything tonight.
I’ll let you count how many times we’ve seen the Aurora Borealis in these 24 days that we’ve been chasing it. This year we had a very outstanding season of the Northern Lights. Last year in 2022, we’ve been in Iceland for the entire month of October and we barely saw something. We were not even aware that the lights can be so bright and colorful. I am almost amazed how beautiful the lights have been in October 2023 compared to October 2022.
I wish you good luck chasing the lights, because luck is the one that you need the most, not skill or anything else! However, if you want to increase your chances of seeing the lights and photo shooting them with your iPhone then check out our other Northern Lights articles: