Stunning selection of 2020s best Aurora Borealis images

“The lights ‘dancing across the sky,’ the colors reflected in your eyes, your heart beating when you see the green captured in the back of your camera screen,” is how the ‘capturetheatlas’ blog describes the awe-inspiring Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

These majestic natural lights are caused by solar winds hitting the magnetic field around the planet.

When the electrons and protons from these solar winds hit particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, they release energy. It is this energy that causes the dazzling aurora.

Magnificent light displays

These fascinating light displays can often be seen in polar regions around the Arctic and Antarctic. The best time to see them is during the autumn and spring equinoxes in places which are free from light pollution.

Travel photography blog, Capture the Atlas has just published its annual collection of the best Northern Lights photos. The Northern Lights Photographer of the Year aims to bring people closer to this stunning phenomenon so that they can understand more about how they happen.

The photos were taken across countries such as the US, Russia, Norway, Iceland, and Antarctica by photographers of 18 different nationalities.

Capture the Atlas editor, Dan Zafra chose the outstanding images throughout the year, looking for new talents and pictures taken in places that haven’t been photographed before.

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“Heavenly Dance” – Sergey Korolev (Kola Peninsula, Russia)

“I’ve been hunting landscapes and Northern Lights on Russia’s Kola Peninsula for several years and I still find new spots,” says photographer Sergey Korolev.

The Kola Peninsula is a region of Russia north of the Arctic circle. For more than two months of the year, it is blanketed in the polar night with only the Northern Lights to brighten the sky.

“I found this stone beach on the coast of the Barents Sea a few years ago,” Korolev adds.

“At the time, I was mesmerized by the shape of the boulders, which moved with the rumble of the ocean waves, as well as the steep mountains rising from the sea.”

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“Lofoten ice lights” -Dennis Hellwig (Lofoten Islands, Norway)

Photographer Dennis Hellwig took this photo on the Lofoten Islands in Norway. The region is known for its dramatic scenery with mountains, open seas and beaches.

“I was able to stand through a hole in the stream and use the tripod to bring my camera close to the icicles,” says Hellwig.

“It was so tight that it was almost impossible to work with a tripod. I also had to make sure that my tripod legs didn’t break the ice.”

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“Ghosts of the fell” – Petri Puurunen (Finnish Lapland)

These ghostly figures captured by Petri Puurunen are actually trees. The snowy candle spruces can be up to 10m tall and weigh several tonnes when covered in snow.

“The weather forecast promised clear skies and refreshing -24ºC temperatures, so what could be a better way to spend a night like that than hiking up to the Fells and photographing trees covered with hard-packed snow?”

“The half-moon was illuminating the scenery, so the conditions were nearly perfect. While wandering around the area and searching for compositions, the Auroras were slowly climbing up to the sky, fading away just ten minutes later.”

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“Antarctic Night” – Benjamin Eberhardt (Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory – Antarctica)

Benjamin Eberhardt’s image shows an aurora over the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the South Pole. It is made up of thousands of sensors under the Antarctic ice and which detects particles called neutrinos in order to study our cosmos.

“The South Pole is probably one of the most remote and challenging environments to do photography, and it is strenuous for both humans and technology,” says Eberhardt.

“To achieve 24h-long time-lapse shots, you need some creativity to heat and insulate your equipment in order to keep it running, and even rotating, in temperatures ranging down to -80ºC (-112 ºF).

“In my case, this was a learning curve over multiple months, with a lot of trial and error and frostbite. On the upside, once you have tackled all the challenges, you have plenty of reasons to be proud of your shots.”

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“The Hunt’s Reward” – Ben Maze (Tasmania, Australia)

Although the Northern Lights, of Aurora Borealis, tend to get much more publicity, the spectacle can be seen in the southern hemisphere too.

“I have had the incredible fortune to witness the Southern Lights twice during two photography trips to Tasmania,” says photographer Ben Maze.

“Captured in this image is a trifecta of astronomical phenomena that made for some of the best astrophotography conditions one can witness in Australia, namely, the setting Milky Way galactic core, zodiacal light, and of course, the elusive Aurora Australis.”

“On top of this, a sparkling display of oceanic bioluminescence adorned the crashing waves, adding the cherry on top to what was already a breathtaking experience.

“I’m forever grateful for moments in nature like this that show us the true wonders of our planet.”

Northern Lights best photos - Stunning selection of 2020s best Aurora Borealis images
“Vikings in the sky” – Nico Rinaldi. (Iceland)

The sunset was really disappointing. In fact, the weather conditions were bad, and it rained intermittently, but I kept waiting, hoping that at night, the conditions would improve and the Northern Lights would show themselves in all their beauty.

“And so it was! After spending several hours observing the sky, around 1 am, the clouds moved away, and the sky was already covered by the Northern Lights. Full of euphoria, I went to the spot I liked and took a series of photographs of this unique natural show.”

“It was truly a wonderful experience, where I was able to test all my night photography skills,” he added.

Visit to enjoy the complete gallery with all 25 images in their full glory.

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