Vietnamese Man's Quest to Photograph the Northern Lights

Viet nature lover Nguyen Duy spends a lot of time discovering the magnificent beauties in Finland, the land he calls his second home, and one of his favorite experiences is hunting the Northern Light.
May 23, 2022 | 08:00
The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
Photo: Nguyen Duy

The Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, appear in a clear night sky as swirling rivers of greenish-blue light. They move and dance unpredictably; sometimes barely perceptible, then suddenly growing vivid.

In the land he calls his second home, which is Finland, Viet nature lover Nguyen Duy spends a lot of time discovering the magnificent beauties. One of his favorite experiences is photographing nature's breathtaking light show.

The auroras can be explained as an interaction of the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field. The solar wind consists of charged particles emanating from the Sun. These are captured by the Earth’s magnetic field and drawn towards the poles at a very high speed.

The phenomenon occurs when the particles collide with atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere (the ionosphere), transforming kinetic energy into visible light.

The ideal spots for aurora hunting are large open spaces such as beach areas, hilltops, lakeshores or eco-parks. When hunting in these public areas there will be no service charges. If you want to see this rare phenomenon without withstanding the cold, choose to rent igloo hotels with glass ceilings .

The ideal time to hunt the aurora borealis will be in winter, from late October to April.

The Viet photographer and his friends often go hunting for aurora at weekends. Finland is a famous destination for hunting the Northern Light among both locals and tourists. Along the way, they get to meet many like-minded adventurers, who share the same passion for photography.

The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
The Viet photographer and his friends often go hunting for aurora at weekends. Photo: Nguyen Duy

Duy explains his quest of aurora hunting at Fäboda beach, about 10km from where he lives. With his trusty aurora hunting "tools" such as tea, coffee, cakes, he also cannot forget to bring firewood to keep warm. The fire is also for grilling sausages or skewers. They are all camping necessities.

Since the area Nguyen Duy lives in is in the central region, the probability of having a high intensity aurora will be lower than in Northern Finland. So Duy uses apps to see the forecast in advance, and at the same time he closely monitors the weather. Even if the forecast said the lights will be visible, his chances to see them are slim if the weather is bad, snowy, cloudy or foggy.

"Northern light hunting is a once-in-life-time experience, you have to be very patient, said Duy.

The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
Photo: Nguyen Duy

Many times he hunted according to the forecast, sat for a few hours in the cold sea without seeing anything.There are also times because the weather changes very quickly, so when going to the hunting place, the clouds come and go and he missed his chance.

There are many people who take dozens of walks and still cannot admire the image of dancing lights in the sky.

To hunt for the aurora, it is normal to have to wait a few hours in the freezing weather. Because no one knows when the aurora will appear, the "aurora hunters" must always be ready to wait outside.

"When hunting, you must prepare warm clothes carefully to withstand the Nordic winter cold down to -10 degrees Celsius," Duy recommended.

The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
Photo: Nguyen Duy

Still, the exposure to the cold is completely worth it, exclaimed the passionate young man.

Every time he successfully hunted the lights, he feels extremely excited and overwhelmed. Each time he see them, the magical lights are different.

"The lines of blue-violet light, if the intensity is strong, there will be even red flying and changing shapes continuously in the sky, never the same. Sometimes it twists like the center of a storm, sometimes it falls vertically to the ground. In particular, the aurora light brightens up an entire sky and falls on the white snow, creating an extremely magical, mysterious, enchanting scene that couldn't be more beautiful."

The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
Photo: Nguyen Duy

Duy and his friends will still hunt many more times because of the thrill and the beautiful photographs.

The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
Photo: Nguyen Duy
The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
Photo: Nguyen Duy
The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
Photo: Nguyen Duy
The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
Photo: Nguyen Duy
The Thrilling Adventure of the Vietnamese Northern Light Hunter
Photo: Nguyen Duy
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