The aurora borealis, known as the northern lights, is one of Earth’s most beautiful and most mysterious natural wonders. In The Nature of Things documentary The Wonder of the Northern Lights, David Suzuki joins an international team of aurora-chasing experts to learn more about them.

Viewing the aurora with the naked eye can be tricky — they often seem dim. But with sensitive cameras, photographers and videographers can capture much brighter images of the lights, revealing their true beauty.

We’ve gathered some of the most stunning footage of the colourful phenomenon.

Aurora in Real Time

Many believe that the northern lights are very slow moving, requiring hours in the cold darkness to view their shimmering movements. But, as these videos show, sometimes these lights can really dance!

Yellowknife, N.W.T. is a hotspot for northern lights due to its northern latitude and location in Earth’s magnetic field. While photo-guide David Yau was showing tourists the beautiful night sky, he was able to capture this incredible (and fast!) display of swirling lights. 
 

As the sun spits out solar radiation, the Earth’s magnetic field captures the charged particles and the aurora is produced. Solar storms can create powerful, impressive lights and photographer Riku Karjalainen was able to capture some stunning real-time images in Finland during one of these storms.

 
Lighting the Scene

To get the full effect of aurora lighting up the night sky, it’s best to see it on a large scale. This video by photographer Richard Gottardo shows the incredible colourful bands stretching down over the rocky mountains. Richard spent many nights in the frigid mountains when the aurora appeared to gather the images, taking him 2 years to create!

The northern lights are seen throughout the northern latitudes and in Finland, some equally beautiful displays are often seen. This footage was captured in Finnish Lapland, just inside the Arctic circle where winter nights are long and dark, and auroras appear bright and vibrant. 

 

MORE:
The vivid ever-changing northern lights can be seen from space
This man chases Alberta's storms in the summer and northern lights in the winter

Gain a new perspective

For most of us, the only way to view the aurora is by looking up. To gain a new perspective, check out this sky-high view of the aurora from the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth.

Photograph your own aurora

Feeling inspired to photograph the northern lights yourself? It’s easier than you think! Take a look at these helpful tips from Canadian photographer John E. Marriott and keep your camera handy and your eyes on the skies.

 

The Wild Canadian Year

Wild Canadian Year


Visit our website to watch the series online, discover extra behind-the-scenes stories and view Canada's nature scenes in 360. Visit Wild Canadian Year

From CBC Kids

The Nature of Thingies