How to Read Aurora Forecasts When Chasing Northern Lights

When we decided to go on a trip to view the northern lights, we went down the science rabbit hole of how aurora forecasts work. We thought that if we had a good understanding of how all the measurements are made, we could increase our odds of seeing the northern lights.

As it turns out, reading aurora and solar activity charts is not easy (and I say this as Angie and I hold a small stack of engineering degrees between the two of us and I've taken an entire year's worth of astronomy for good measure). For those who are not as nerdy as we are, looking at these charts can be quite daunting and may cause you to simply stick to the analog of the KP Index and call it a day.

So in this one, we thought we'd share a few of our favorite things to watch out for on aurora tracking sites like Space Weather Live to help you better understand the charts that you may be looking at!

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How to Photograph the Northern Lights – Camera Settings

When we went to Kiruna, Sweden, deep in the Arctic Circle, to chase the northern lights, I knew I wanted to capture some (hopefully) stellar aurora photos.

I have had some experience in astrophotography when shooting photos of the stars deep in the desert, but combining that with often moving and fleeting aurora at much closer distances (than a nearby galaxy, at least) was a new challenge entirely.

After taking an aurora photography tour and practicing myself, I have some tips plus a few products you may want to buy that will help your aurora photography improve significantly!

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10 Ways to Increase Your Odds of Seeing the Northern Lights

When it comes to seeing the northern lights, you simply cannot go outside, look up, and expect a show (well, most of the time at least).

In fact, there are so many factors that go into seeing the aurora borealis, be it sun activity to local cloud cover, that makes giving guarantees of seeing the lights absolutely impossible. So if you are looking to travel on an aurora borealis vacation, you need to go into things knowing that, sadly, nothing is guaranteed.

That being said, there are many things you can do when planning for a northern lights trip that can help increase your odds of success. So in this one we thought we'd share our top tips and arrange them all from the broadest to the most focused things to keep in mind!

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Westvleteren 12 vs Rochefort 10 vs St. Bernardus 12 – Blind Tasting

After going on a pilgrimage to buy Westvleteren beer in Belgium, we knew one of the first things we had to do when we got home was to try it next to other popular Belgian quadrupels (quads) to see how it stacks up.

While we enjoyed many famous quads when in the country, we never were able to sample some of the most famous in a proper side-by-side. So we gathered a couple friends, found a few more famous Belgian quads, and devised a blind taste test to see which one liked the most.

Our lineup put Westvelteren 12 vs Rochefort 10 vs St. Bernardus 12, three of the most famous quads in all of Belgium, against each other. For a bit of a twist, we also threw in a quad from a local producer in Pittsburgh, Strange Roots, for good measure.

So, how did the blind taste test turn out? We have some thoughts!

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