Aurora Borealis Timelapse by Tor Even Mathisen [Big Picture]

Photographer Tor Even Mathisen captured the Aurora Borealis over Tromso, Norway in a stunning timelapse photoshoot.

Photographer Tor Even Mathisen captured the Aurora Borealis over Tromso, Norway in a stunning timelapse photoshoot. This surreal act of the elements, perhaps Nature’s most magical, dances across the Norse skies in Mathisen’s frame.

“I’ve used a Canon EOS 5D mark II with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II, a TC-80N3 timer and a tripod. The timelapse is taken in Tromso, Norway, and it is captured from november 2009 to april 2010. Every single sequence in the timelapse is put togheter by 2-300 stillframes. ISO-levels from 1000 to 1600 @ f/2.8 and exposure times from 3-6 seconds,” he said.

He continued: “Every single stillframe is taken in Canons raw-format and edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I did some whitebalance and contrast-adjustments. I then exported the raw-files as JPEG in best quality and then imported in Adobe Aftereffects.”

An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, particularly in the polar regions, caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth’s magnetic field. An aurora is usually observed at night and typically occurs in the ionosphere.

It is also referred to as a polar aurora or, collectively, as polar lights. These phenomena are commonly visible between 60 and 72 degrees north and south latitudes, which place them in a ring just within the Arctic and Antarctic polar circles. Auroras do occur deeper inside the polar regions, but these are infrequent and often invisible to the naked eye.

In northern latitudes, the effect is known as the aurora borealis (or the northern lights), named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas, by Pierre Gassendi in 1621.

Auroras seen near the magnetic pole may be high overhead, but from farther away, they illuminate the northern horizon as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the Sun were rising from an unusual direction. The aurora borealis most often occurs near the equinoxes.

The northern lights have had a number of names throughout history. The Cree call this phenomenon the “Dance of the Spirits”. In Europe, in the Middle Ages, the auroras were commonly believed a sign from God (see Wilfried Schröder, Das Phänomen des Polarlichts, Darmstadt 1984).

Its southern counterpart, the aurora australis (or the southern lights), has similar properties, and is visible from high southern latitudes in Antarctica, South America and Australia.

Auroras can be spotted throughout the world and on other planets. They are most visible closer to the poles due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field. Modern style guides recommend that the names of meteorological phenomena, such as aurora borealis, be uncapitalized.

Auroras result from emissions of photons in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, above 80 km (50 miles), from ionized nitrogen atoms regaining an electron, and oxygen and nitrogen atoms returning from an excited state to ground state.

They are ionized or excited by the collision of solar wind particles being funneled down and accelerated along the Earth’s magnetic field lines; excitation energy is lost by the emission of a photon of light, or by collision with another atom or molecule: oxygen emissions and nitrogen emissions.

Auroras are associated with the solar wind, a flow of ions continuously flowing outward from the Sun. The Earth’s magnetic field traps these particles, many of which travel toward the poles where they are accelerated toward Earth.

Collisions between these ions and atmospheric atoms and molecules cause energy releases in the form of auroras appearing in large circles around the poles. Auroras are more frequent and brighter during the intense phase of the solar cycle when coronal mass ejections increase the intensity of the solar wind. [photos via via Flickr; story via Tor Even Mathisen]

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