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Hello all,

I`d love some advice if possible, i`m booked on a " In search of the northern lights" flight soon- ( A birthday present from a much appreciated spouse!!)

It`s a flight to up north to see the aurora borealis- they switch the lights off on the plane etc andhave an expert astronomer on board(Pete lawrence being one of three).

I`d really love to get some pictures, but i`m not sure what would be the recommend exposures/iso`/lens, I`ve got a conon 40d , and a couple of zooms( one wide angle)

would welcome your top tips, and if they come out well, i`ll try and post them here!!

much appreciated, Ian

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I have taken lots of pictures of Aurora from the ground here in Scotland. Auroras can cover a lot of sky so a wide angle lens would be of more use.

Set for 800ASA as minimum not sure how long an exposure you can get away with since there would be some vibration in the plane. Very bright display requires only a few seconds.

On the ground I would be shooting for about 20 seconds, longer for a faint display - but that will not work in the air. If Pete is on your flight ask him for advice.

When are you going?


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I think as Mike says your settings should be similar to those on the ground...

But review your shots after each few. Obviously the luxury of a tripod and longer more saturated exposures is out so you may have to compensate where you can.

I live at fairly high latitude and have not seen a decent display for 2 years..

the sun being well within the trough of its cycle... So I hope they go well North and you get lucky...

One other thing to note would be to get focus as best you can and switch autofocus off as the window glass (especially if dirty , frosty or reflecting) will confuse your cameras AF system.

Good Luck!


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Seen the aurora twice from a plane, may well have been present on previous flights, just never realised they/it was outside the window.

Both been green and fair, not bright. Not sure of pictures through the windows but a wide and fast lens will be the best, as has been suggested.

Both views have been returning from Canada, we were Greenland/Iceland position as I recall. Also last time with the aurora and a good view of Orion.

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Hi Ian,

Which flight are you on?

I typically use a setting of ISO1600 and exposures ranging from 5s up to 30s. Use the widest lens you have and set it fully open works best but if you have a faster lens with a slightly longer focal length then that may work too. Holding the camera still against the window is tricky but it can be done.

Unfortunately you won't be able to review your shots during the flight as the cabin darkness is strictly controlled.

The auroral oval is always there, despite the lack of solar activity. The greatest controller to a display's visibility is the magnetic polarity of the material coming in.

You can see some of the previous flight's results and more from here...


Do come up and make yourself known.

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