The northern sky turned purple, pink, red and green last night. Rarely have the northern lights – especially with a camera – been seen so well in the Netherlands. Photographers made good use of it. Some also hope to take nice pictures tonight, but the prospects are less rosy.
“It was a beautiful light show,” says pilot Rob Huisman. He and his colleagues had no idea beforehand that there would be something special to see. It would just be a routine flight from Schiphol to the Polish city of Gdansk.
“Very soon after takeoff we saw a white-green glow on the north side. We were amazed.” The light in the cockpit was dimmed to better see the phenomenon. Then the Northern Lights “slowly came to life”.
He took this photo of it near the city of Groningen:
The photo was taken with his mobile’s night mode. He has not edited the image. “Especially the red comes out much better in the photo. The green was clearly visible with the naked eye.”
The color spectacle was also a topic of discussion in communication with air traffic control. It was the second time for Huisman in his twelve-year career as a pilot that he saw the Aurora Borealis. The first time was in the north of Sweden. But last night it was better to see, according to him. “It was really unique.”
Astrophysicist Bert van den Oord of KNMI agrees. “It’s rare for the Northern Lights to be such a visual spectacle here.” Unfortunately for enthusiasts, it will be cloudy from the north tonight. There is also less solar activity, the source of the auroras.
“So I wouldn’t stay awake especially for it,” says Van den Oord. “Or as a photographer you have to be lucky with an unclouded part.”
Watch a sped-up shot of the footage here:
The less favorable prospects do not deter Marjolein van Roosmalen on Terschelling. “The batteries are charging and tonight I’m on the road again.”
The professional photographer is very pleased with her photos from last night. Before that, she spent about two hours, from 10 p.m. to midnight, on the beach. “It was pretty cold, but I was dressed for that too.” Van Roosmalen started taking pictures even before the dancing glow was visible to the naked eye. Because on her photo screen the colors are much clearer.
“I set the shutter speed to ten seconds and open the aperture as far as it will go. With my eyes all I saw was a light green glow, but through the camera it was bright red, green and purple. This was the tenth time now, but I’ve never seen it so bright.”
Kevin Oudman drove in the evening from Aduard in Groningen to Moddergat in Friesland. There the hobby photographer parked his car on top of the seawall and took out his camera. “The Northern Lights were then very faintly visible,” even in this spot with little light pollution.
A little later, and with a shutter speed of about seven to eight seconds, he also had success. “Be patient and focus manually, and then you suddenly see all those colors. Insane.”
Once back home, Oudman edited the photos for a while and then sent them around. “In the end I was in bed at 1.30 am and had to go back to work at 8 am this morning. So it was a short night.”
Is he going again tonight? Oudman doesn’t know that yet. “It depends on the cloud cover.” Finally, after last night, he has already received the loot. “You could say it was a highlight.”
- Northern lights clearly visible above the Netherlands: ‘Relatively rare’