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10 best northern lights photos of 2022

Northern lights photos: Deep snow covering evergreen trees until the tops bend sideways, and colorful lights in the sky.
Nico Rinaldi captured this image in Murmansk Oblast, Russia. He calls it Polaris Dream. It’s one of the best northern lights photos of 2022. Nico wrote: “I dreamed about photographing the landscapes of Northern Russia for a long time. There, you feel like you’re in the realm of snow monsters, in a landscape where the mountains and trees are dominated by ice and snow. It was hard work to get to this place … I only hope we can see peace reestablished soon and reconnect with so many incredible people and landscapes on this planet.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Best northern lights photos of 2022

It’s that time of year again! Dan Zafra, at his travel photography blog Capture the Atlas, released his choices for the 25 best aurora images of 2022 from photographers around the world. We’re sharing 10 of these amazing photographs with you at EarthSky. The submissions here are from six countries and include the southern lights from New Zealand. And you can see the full set of 25 images at Zafra’s website.

Solar activity continues to heat up as we head toward solar maximum, providing more opportunities to see the aurora. Do you have a great image of the aurora to share? You can submit it to us at EarthSky Community Photos.

Available now! 2023 EarthSky lunar calendar. A unique and beautiful poster-sized calendar showing phases of the moon every night of the year! Makes a great gift.

Auroraverse by Tor-Ivar Næss

Radial pink and neon green streaks of light from straight overhead and distant man in silhouette.
Tor-Ivar Næss took this image from Nordreisa, Norway. Tor-Ivar said: “When the northern lights go crazy in the night sky, focusing on your composition is worth the utmost effort, because there is so much happening so quickly. Even for a seasoned photographer, it’s very hard to focus on enjoying the aurora while photographing it.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Elves’ House by Asier López Castro

Mountainous, snowy landscape with man on distant hill and great green arcs and swirls of light overhead.
Asier López Castro took this image in Stokknes, Iceland. Asier said: “On my last trip to Iceland, I decided to try my luck in one of its most iconic locations, a magical place for any landscape photographer. It snowed the day before, and the air mixed the fallen snow with the fine sand, making the textures on the ground incredibly beautiful. Then the sky did the rest.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Nordic Quetzal by Luis Solano Pochet

Tall, thin red streak in the sky with glowing green fans of light, like bird wings, to one side.
Luis Solano Pochet took this image in Dyrhólaey, Iceland. Luis said: “This rare red aurora that shined after a powerful solar event in Iceland reminded me of the iconic tropical bird of my home country: the Quetzal. I had to take a vertical panorama to frame the action because my 14mm lens wasn’t wide enough to capture the grandeur of this aurora. It was hard to process and edit these images because of how unreal they seemed to me with the unique red color. It made me think of all the myths and legends that this natural phenomenon must have awakened in ancient civilizations.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Under a Northern Sky by Rachel Jones Ross

Steep, dark mountain with white spots in foreground and green streamers coming up from behind it.
Rachel Jones Ross took this image in the Tombstone Mountain Range, Yukon Territory, Canada. Rachel said: “We have all heard stories about the land of the Midnight Sun, when the sun doesn’t really set. But in winter, there are also 3-4 days each month when the moon doesn’t set (circumpolar) and 3-4 days each month when it doesn’t rise! On my visit, there were four nights when the moon didn’t make it above the horizon, and I had dark nights for shooting the aurora.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Michigan Night Watch by Marybeth Kiczenski

Vertical pink and yellow glowing streamers behind a lighthouse on a sandy hill.
Marybeth Kiczenski took this image at the Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfort, Michigan. Marybeth said: “I decided to choose Point Betsie as my main location for this aurora chase. It was super busy since it was a Friday. It was fun to make some new friends, and we chatted while waiting for Lady Aurora to make an appearance. Around 11:30 p.m., she made herself known. We cheered. We clapped. This is what makes all of it worth it!” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Nugget Point Lighthouse Aurora by Douglas Thorne

Peach and yellow lights along water between steep coastal rocks with Milky Way arching overhead.
Douglas Thorne took this image at Nugget Point Lighthouse in New Zealand. Douglas wrote: “Nugget Point Lighthouse is on the eastern side of New Zealand’s South Island. It rests above the famous rocks, which were named by Captain Cook because they looked like pieces of gold. The lighthouse is set on a precipice, where the ocean meets the sky. From here, you can get panoramic views of the southern seas, so it’s a photographer’s dream location.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

The Light Upon Kerlaugar by Jannes Krause

Distant mountain, foreground waterfall, and green and purple vertically striated bands of aurora in the sky.
Jannes Krause took this image in Suðurland, Iceland. Jannes said: “Originally my flight back home was scheduled to depart about 12 hours before this intense solar storm, but as soon as I saw the perfect weather and aurora projections, I knew that I just had to change my plans and extend my trip by an additional day.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Chasing the Light by David Erichsen

Man holds up a light inside an ice cave as green aurora is visible outside cave mouth.
David Erichsen took this image at Castner Glacier, Alaska. David said: “What’s not pictured in this shot are the several nights I wandered out to this cave in sub-zero temperatures waiting for just a hint of green to dance through this frozen window. I knew the recent coronal mass ejection (CME) might be strong enough to make this 2-hour midnight hike worth the journey. As I made my way out to the cave, my walk quickly became a full-on run as I saw the sky split open with magnificent color. Sadly, the ice cave collapsed on itself a couple months ago, which just shows that you have to chase every opportunity before it’s gone.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Inception by Giulio Cobianchi

Complex curving seacoast with Milky Way arch on left and aurora arc on right, plus shooting star.
Giulio Cobianchi took this image in the Lofoten Islands, Norway. Giulio said: “My goal was to photograph a double aurora and Milky Way arc to add to my collection. I had been planning this pano for a couple of years, and finally, all the elements aligned. Under the Milky Way, you can see the Andromeda galaxy in the middle of the two arcs. A shooting star acts as the cherry on top. Above a colorful aurora is the Big Dipper! To the north, you can still see the light of the recently set sun.” Image via Capture the Atlas.

Bottom line: The blog Capture the Atlas announced its 2022 Northern Lights Photographer of the Year contest. This annual edition showcases 25 of the best aurora photos taken from all over the world. See 10 of the best northern lights photos in the world here.

December 30, 2022
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