Icelands polar lights

a silent performance

 photographed from Martin Rietze, December 2002

in deutsch

Producer:  Sun      Leading part:  Iones      Place:  Ionosphere      Animation:  Protons


For more than 10 years it was my great desire, watching out for intensive polar ights. The fascinating play of the solar wind with the polar upper atmosphere has its own, really celestial attraction. By obtaining the transit zone between earth dimensions and the width of the universe, the ground-based observation stays in connection with the astronomy . In former times I could saw well surprised, clear light curtains during an observatory guidance in Fuerstenfeldbruck / Bavaria, in the northern sky. But half an hour later it was already gone.

In the further time I always pursued messages from the very rare polar light happenings in our area and in addition with every announced solar activity I never again had the luck to see at night something similar. Many observations were made because of the strong active sun in the last years. But from this point of time the sun is starting into a dwell phase for several years and so the beautiful polar photos of the last times did spurred me. While living in this circumstances I couldn't resist against the temptation to fly for a short trip directly under the polar light belt. In addition the magnetic pole in Iceland is reaching furthest to the south of our earth and you can reach it more or less comfortable in the ' sour cucumbers time '. (which stupid tourist flies in the time of the polar night with continuous dawn to the north?).

During the flight we had to turn back to Glasgow, because storm and strong precipitation made it impossible approaching Iceland. During this time you doubtfull ask yourself how to spend this one-week night time with nearly continuous wind and rain. But unbelievable it was probably one of the famous cases of boundless " beginner luck ''. Happyness!! Despite of the nearly continuous bad weather it was a clear seeing for two nights on the 6.12. and 7.12.2002. Exactly in this time there has been very strong polar light activities. The images unfortunately can't show  the impression of an observer, observing within seconds itself forming and moving curtains, loops and bows by having an unforgettable experience. Beside this, the position was exactly under the curtain without getting disturbed by the clarification of the environment. Therefore the conditions in a low settled area of Europe are completely different, than a matte glowing once in the year, in the light-dirty Germany.

The location was depending unfortunately on the cloud gaps and not to the beautiful landscape. All pictures where made on the south side of the peninsula Reykjanes at the edge of the crushed stony street. Exeptionally in this time the 6x7 camera was only used limited, because the fast variable optical phenomena needs extremely fast lenses what the middle format photography can not supply. Therefore I took my small picture equipment with me and supplemented it with a high-bright wide angle of the newest generation. All pictures got banned with a superwide angle f=20mm with full opening 1:1,8 and a 4s-20s exposure time on Kodak E200 diapositive film which is high graded suitable for this application.

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2002 Photos und  text by Martin Rietze, Translation, design Th. Boeckel