The Aurora Borealis in Finnish Lapland 12-26 March 2024.

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My 14th trip to Rovaniemi and Kätkävaara is about to start.
Four days to go and counting.
My two suitcases and backpack are packed for 95% and just a few things are left to do and pack. It seemes that I will not touch the 50 kg mark for the first time in years but who knows what stupid idea may emerge in the nucleus of my brain to fill it to the max of 54kg.

In two days the check-in opens and most prices of the seats on board will dropped or lowered. Finnair is an excellent flyer but their prices for legroom on a two hour flight are insane with a staggering €50 🤯😡 to mention just one of them. Their back-office is slow like a snail braking for a curve in the road but they have a monopoly on the dailyness of the flights to all their domestic airports so there is virtually no other option than to put up with that.

In the mean time problems have risen with regards to the website software not being able to show images the way I want so I have returned to old school HTML to build what you are now looking at.

12 March: Game On!

Due to the ongoing software problems still a bit different blog. I will continu later today after I have taken care of some things that need to be done first at the first day after my arrival.

As the things have been taken care of there is time now to work the blog.
Having planned to take an early train it turned out to take one even earlier as the traffic toward the station flowed better than anticipated. The train always is the stressy part. Failures of electrical power, track signaling and track changers and more than thought even collisions can ruin your timely arrival. But all went well and at the airport the fun could take over.

seatedwingletAt boarding time the passengers couldn't get started and the group numbers were missing on the monitors so even when called no one seemed to respond. Then my me, myself and I kicks in and I just went through creating the principle of where one is going more will follow, after all I had a next flight waiting for me in Helsinki and I sure as 'HEL' wasn't planning on missing that one. This action made me board an almost empty plane assuring me of enough space in the overhead bin. The disadvantage is that the aisle will fill up with boarding people giving me a treat of claustrofobia, one of the moments that you physically really can't have both ways.

The flight was good and I tried catching up with some sleep. I can't sleep on a plane so it's more like dozing off. Helsinki is a nice airport and I've seen it grow over the past eleven years. From a somewhat sloppy crowded but cozy building it transformed in what now is an airport that can compete with any. The renovation has only just finished.

HELBoarding the flight to Rovaniemi was a bit chaotic but as I have come to some basic understanding of the insanely weird Finnish language I heard ' tervetuloa yksi ja kaksi' meaning groups 'one and two are welcome' and more as a reflex than a response I made my way thru the gate and again boarded an almost empty plane. I don't like spending money on seats unless there is a good reason but I was lucky to be provided with 24D in an A321 which is the most expensive seat near the emergency exit. Space!

Again a smooth flight and at Rovaniemi my friend Anthony was waiting for me. I couldn't find him and he couldn't find me. So that proved a phone to come in handy and we told each other where we were. Still couldn't find us... and then it occured we had to turn around 180 degrees, both. Standing 5 meters apart...🤪 in open space...😖

Anthony took me to my Guesthouse where lovely and ever vibrant Sofia welcomed me. And now a race against the clock started to be in time for the 20:45 pickup. This means unpacking, sorting, organizing and prioritizing what to take with me on this first night and figuring out how to dress myself as that routine gets rusty over the year. And being well clothed is the major thing.

KottaAfter pickup we always go to 'The Office' as the store of the company is called and there I met a few of the curious guides that had heard of me a lot. We drove off to the viewing site where Anthony and me would stay as the rest of the group was going to 'hunt' the northern lights. A rediculous thing that is becoming popular by mouth of people that have done that in Norway where it makes sense. Read about that here and why that is often useless in Finnish southern Lapland. We re-lit the fire and Anthony prepared for the return of the group while I did a light setup to assess the sky which, like we thought, was grey and black.

The light which makes the surroundings and tree tops visible is coming from the stars getting through the clouds, the moon is as good as new and not over the horizon. What the photo shows here is the actual situation and light. Starlight is stronger than you may think.✨✨✨

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13 March: A Subway Saga and Snow is on its way for delivery

BlacknightThis was an easy day. Rounding off my unpacking and installing my equipment. This trip came with just over 50 kg of baggage, my equipment being the larger part. All those electronics require a respectable arsenal of chargers and they in turn require an equal amount of wall outlets. My cameras on the other side for downloading the photos and behind the laptop 4 extra TB adding to the 2 inside my laptop.

Having that all setup I went for some shopping and getting some stuff that I per se want to take home in case of an emergency departure like was the case in 2020. My shopping took me also to the Subway which is, except for my breakfast, my main provider of food. Well... it should be... closed for renovation, open on 27 March. And I go home on the 26th...😱. That shook me up. That food is a BIG part of my routine and is 💥NOT💥 negotiable. The supermarkets here are well sorted in ready made stuff somewhat like Subways products but way lower in vegetables. To counter that and reach a certain level of similarity I have to spend about twice the amount that Subway would cost me and Subway here is twice as expensive as in The Netherlands.

This evening I am home. Writing this blog entry and trying to solve an issue with the software that runs my website. The cloud cover is extensive and dense and early in the morning is a shitload of snow expected. Hence the aurora, if there anyway, will not be interesting for photography. Best case scenario is green clouds and green snow. I have had my fair share of that already.
cloud cover The curl in the left top corner brings the snow.
By the way: today it is exactly 35 years ago that an enormous outburst of the sun disrupted several Canadian powerplants and burned a few 1.2 Megawatt powertransformers in New Jersey. The solarwind is dangerous and has proved that several times.

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14 March: A slow day of mainly reading parameters

Usually I don't write an entry at the day that it is about. My activities simply don't allow me to but as I stayed home last night things today are a bit different. This gives me an opportunity to take you along during my assessments of the chances of the night ahead.

The snow warning from one of my two apps that I experience as reliable was screeming death dangerous snowstorms and thick layers of snow urging to leave the roads for what they are. But... it turned out to be 2 cm and it is still snowing those typical very fine flakes that can be so fine that you can actually see the crystals falling one by one. Just let them land on a black surface and you'll see crystals of about 1-2 mm. This is very well visble when you blow your hot moist breath into the night only lit by your headlight. From -10 down your breath will freeze in front of you and drop as ice crystals. In fact I have seen it snowing at crystal clear nights under -20 when the moist in the air spontaneously freezes and comes sparkling down all around you like❄️Peter❄️Pans❄️Magic❄️Dust❄️

The plan for today is to go into town to find some cute clothing for our newly born grandchild, get food, visit the office and keep calm. Maybe no night out again as an extensive field of clouds is still coming in and snow seemes to start at 22:00 hrs again for the whole night. A night with a forecasted temperature of -2 to -3... that is bloody hot🥵

Throughout the day I keep an eye on all sorts of parameters. One that is interesting is the position and brightness of the moon. The less moonlight the weaker the aurora gets visible and the more the surrounding landscape gets attention in the photos. Here is the diagram that work with. The graph is set to saturday 16 March at 23:00 hrs (the 00:00 is not the time of the graph) when the sky is expected to be clear. The maximum brightness is in the top right corner (44.8%):


So there are a few important parameters:
  • Clouds
  • Moon
  • Magnetic orientation of the solar wind
  • Speed and density of the solar wind and the trend these two are showing
  • Disturbance storm time index
  • Hemispheric power
  • KP value (this one only indicates to which latitude the aurora may be visible)
The numerical explanation for the latter five parameters.
For the upcoming night this all means: no way to see anything except for maybe green clouds

Rovaniemi snow 1 Rovaniemi snow 2
One of the main roads in Rovaniemi and my door step.

Change of plans!
Instead of 20:45 I'm being picked up at 17:45 as the window in the clouds seemes stable enough to make a go for it until 22:00 at which time the clouds will close the cover for more snow and we'll end the tour.
But... the magnetic orientation is wrong and hemispheric power is dropping and the Disturbance Storm Time Index is rising to and alost passing zero. That all is not good...

temporary open sky Back from tonights early tour. We left with a closed cloud deck but as the app showed us the sky opened as we neared Kätkävaara to find an almost wide open sky at arrival. As the sky was still way to bright to discern any aurora we went inside where I flooded the clients with information about the Aurora. That took me some ten minutes, add to that the 5 minutes of tour guide Kamila and you have about a quarter of an hour to refill the sky with clouds. So... the weathergods did🤬 The combination of my experience and knowing where to look with a report that Kamila got from friends up north made me wonder if what I photographed to the northeast were either very distant skyreflected headlights or an attempt of the Aurora to punch through the clouds. That is something for tomorrowmoring to find out in extensive processing of the files. So other than some sneeky peeks from the moon through the clouds... there was nothing. Three days after my arrrival without any sign of an Aurora... well that is new...😳

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15 March: New day, new round, new chances and new prices!!!

First: I have added to the end of the entry of 13 march. That is one of the memorable days in Aurora history. Stay tuned for todays updates.

I have been working on navigating this page and the feature of sending reactions and questions by email. That worked out partly but not to the degree that I had in mind🙄. Tonight is not looking like yesterdays forecast but we’re going to give it a chance…

As I write this I am preparing for tonights run. The parameters are all negative but still there are people willing to go. If this is your only chance for whatever reason, you hope for the tiniest hole in the clouds. My cameras and software can penetrate a thin layer but it has to be thin and it won't be the smoothest of images but to some people it can mean the world. And if there is any place where the sky may open just that tiny little bit it is Kätkävaara. It has happened before.

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16 March: Deceiving eyes

No lights again last night. As we were monitoring the gaps in the cloud deck Anthony decided to stay at the foot of the hill. It is some 400 meters to the southwest and 60 meters lower and that gives the opportunity to look straight into holes that otherwise would be imposssible. Try this for an illustration: cut a 5cm piece from a toiletpaper cilinder, keep it upright at about a 40 degree angle in front of you with a stretched arm and move it from there toward you while increasing the angle to about 60 degrees. As you move it you get to see into and through that ring.

cloudformationSadly the only thing we got to see was the Moon peeking through the clouds looking down at some odd people looking up. To get an idea of both the thickness and structure of the cloud formation I take photo's of it, just out of my hands if my tripod is still stowed as I just need a crude idea of it, it doesn't need sharpness. When the structure becomes visible it tells you that the layer isn't that thick. What I also derive from this is the presence of any auroral activity as the camera picks the colours up way before our eyes can.

What this also tells me is if the dark spots in the clouds are really thick clouds that block all light out or... if they really thin thus showing the blackness of Space. In that latter case stars should become visible. Without further information your eyes, or better, your retina, deceives you. Our eyes are odd things as they can level out brightness sufficiently good but they are quite weak in colour registration. Mother nature really let humans down in that.

Kotta fire and saucages

The rest of the night, apart from some surveillance on appearing auroras, we spend inside the Kotta to heat all kinds of things at the fire. Saucages, chickennuggets, meatballs etc. All pre-cooked and ready to eat. Also some Shamanism thing with melting metal which is dumped into water. It produces shapes which can be interpreted directly and by its shadow. That can lead to wisdom and hilarious things, very nice and funny entertainment to pass the time.

Direct interpretation shadow interpretation

The weather is looking good for tonight so that is the number one issue out of the way🥳, the temperature is probably -10ish though one of three apps calculated -13. No problem as long as we don't pass -30 🥶 but -13 sounds and functions preferable.

So what say the Space Weather Gods?
Well not really much to say yet. The main satellites that measure the solar wind parameters only report about one hour before impact on the Earths atmosphere. The flares (Coronal Mass Ejections) we can see as they happen. What they consist of is the surprise. But there are no substantial CME's known at the moment as they have to be targeting our planet and they take 2.5-3 days to arrive here. Also Coronal Holes (they send solar matter as well) are not present either but one seemes to peek around the corner on the left side rotating to the front. Sunspots are almost absent and while not a showstopper that is a curious thing in this stage of the solarcycle.
The Hemispheric Power is low as is the DST index (Disturbance Storm Time) and those are the two I'm focussing on. The KP-value that everyone talks about is of no interest unless it gets at or beyond 8 which means that here in South-Lapland the sky will most probably be empty.

So no... for this night i'm not excited. Yet. The solarcycle (number 25 since humanity started recording) is nearing its top but the auroral activity is worrying low. The whole season, which starts 21 august when the auroras become visible again because of the setting sun, the auroras have been very low in activity, peaks left there for what they were.

We'll see... the sky is clear and that being the major positive thing... we have seen total surprises of Lady Aurora putting up a totally unexpected show!

Luckily we didn’t hit -18 tonight. We got stuck at -17.9 😏

Yes we did get a tiny little surprise from Lady Aurora. And tiny it was...
Right above and thru the tree tops and only for the trained eye and even then it was very hard to see. The camera does a much better job and showed us a green arch very far away. Think of this: it stands 80km above the surface of the Earth so when you see it at the horizon it actually is far beyond so we estimated it at at least 700km away if not further. Which triggers me to go do the math on this as it is simple goniometry. Measure the angle above the horizon and off you go...
At the moment of writing this my cameras are uploading 1000+ shots to my laptop. Many will be discarded as they have been running almost the whole time and I have to pick out the interesting ones as I fear that it isn't dynamic enough for a timelapse but we'll see about that.

Panorama 16 March 2024

On our way home the parameters were still getting worse untill the density of the solarwind spiked. I made Shoja who was driving stop the car at the usual place at the transmissiontower as it is a high ground in the hope that that sudden rise in density would make a difference of some kind. But the other parameters were so bad, some almost extreme, that there was nothing there... It is sad but it adds to the mystics and the bucketlist value and by that it keeps its magic.
techdata 1 techdata 2
techdata 3 techdata 4
Sometimes people ask me if it has ever been enough and how I keep fighting the cold, the late hours, the energy.
Well I don't have many friends and a fair part of them are here in Rovaniemi and I cherish them and I am very happy to have added one extra. As many of you know I am diagnosed with ADHD, Autism and I am gifted, being open about that is literally my job and existance and... it fires me up. This is what the core message in the lyrics of Bon Jovis 'Bounce' tells about me:

Bounce, Bounce I play hard, I play to win
Count me out, count me in
I'll be bouncing back again

This ain't no game; I play it hard
Kicked around, cut, stitched and scarred
I'll take the hit but not the fall
I know no fear, still standing tall
You can call it karma, call it luck
Me, I just don't give a fuck

Bring it on, I like it rough
In your face, I call your bluff
It ain't karma, it ain't luck
Me, I just don't give a fuck

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17 March: In short... well there actually is no long epic story to this day🙄.

17 March 2015: KP9! The Aurora was visible all the way down the planet to Slovenia. That is not going to happen tonight. We get what we are given...

No. It wasn't like nine years ago. In fact it was the downright opposite of nine years ago.
The day brought me nothing worth mentioning. In the preparation of the evening it became clear that, like yesterday, the parameters were all negative except for a 95% open sky. So the only thing that I can do is place two photos of a moonlit landscape so my evening wasn't for nothing.

17 March 1 17 March 2

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18 March: Hope.

For tonight the parameters are, for now, looking the same. Why then still go? Well... there are just two satellites in Space that provide us with the data we use. Two tiny machines in the vast space of... Space. It is just like when you take two cups of water from different places in the Pacific Ocean and analyze them for a report about that entire Ocean. You get an idea of the situation there. Exactly there. And that is why sometimes the Aurora appears while she shouldn't and the other way around. But this morning I was looking at the suns situation and to my joy a so called Coronal Hole appears on the west side on its way to the center that faces our planet. This could mean good chances just before I leave for home. That is good news because the sun should be filled with spots but it looks like a billiard ball instead 😧.

solar 1 solar 2 solar 3

It is looking like the sky will be quite clear. Not 100% for my photography but every bucketlisters dream.
At the moment that I'm writing this it is 17:37 EET (local time). The parameters are getting a bit better but valid for only something like an hour and there are still 4 hours to go for the first stop on our way at minimum.

Experiment: liveblog time UTC only (+1 for CET Amsterdam)
18:47: parameters improving
19:05: ready waiting for pickup
21:17: on the road for roughly one hour
20:55: the whole sky is evenly green!
00:28: back home

Finally a good display of northern lights! The new parameters that I have come to understand lived up to the expectations so now to find out if they do so consistently...

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19 March: 2249 photos to edit and process..

Yes you read that well. Two cameras on an automated panoramic quest taking 4 second exposures with a 1 second processing and storing gap cover 93,58 minutes that were worth while.
While being in Rovaniemi I only do cherry picking. The big chunk in editing and processing is for back home in Arnhem. However the denoising process is fully automated and will run while I am out in town.

Panorama 16 March 2024
18 March 2024

There isn't anything of real interest today to write about. The parameters that are of any value still have to come and all earlier than around 20:35 is useless as our first viewingpoint will be reached around 21:45. The clouds could turn out to be not too bad as I can now see on the satellite.

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20 March: The Moon... Landscape or Aurora.

Half way down the first Aurora trip of this year I finally get what I, and many many others for that fact, came for. For the second night I got my moneys worth: 2390 shots over two cameras. That totals to 5900 shots at this moment for the past 8 nights and days adding up to 258 GB. Guess that'll keep me off the streets for some time😏.

So back to last night which started with a crystal clear sky lit by a 60% Moon making it very difficult to discern the aurora but as soon as we left the lights of civilization behind us we could see her in the very distance which resulted in a 10 minute stop to enable Anthony to do the photography of the clients against that backdrop.

Panorama 19 March 2024
Panorama 19 March 2024

We drove on and as the lights were having their coffee break we headed to the destination with only minor checking stops on the way. Veli, the owner of the company, dropped me and my equipment off on the hill by snowmobile and I setup my stuff having already seen that the lights were back again. The sky was crystal clear and the Moon was very busy disturbing the view but that has the advantage of taking the surrounding terrain into the picture which is, if not to often, not necessarily a bad thing.

I left my stuff alone doing its thing and went to the Kota to get a sausage and a hot chocolate and as I was killing both I got the idea to create a path to the little toilet a few meters further back and thus creating a spot to get the Kota and the trees as a frame into my images. Anthony helped me get my bags while i took my tripod and cameras. It's not like just pickup a camera and walk, it is more like a coordinated effort to get it into a spot of more or less fluffy snow under a frozen crust and that made walk like drunken Captain Jack Sparrow while carrying several thousands of Euros equipment outside its bag.

When around 01:00 hrs I descended the hill surrounded by billions of diamonds sparkling on the crusty top of the snow, the clouds came back in like they wanted to say something like 'go you human, its my turn now'. Perfect timing.

I don't like forecasting to much but for the upcoming days the cloud pattern doesn't look good while some middle class flares have been send our way by the sun. That on its own doesn't say to much as the composition of the flares has yet to be analyzed by the satellites. We'll know some 60-80 minuts before it reaches our planet. If at all...

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21 March: The faintest registration of Aurora in my 11 years

Yesterday took off with uploading all the files and making backups. I am extremely disciplined in that. As I am with my clothing. I have an utter respect for the two main things of importance: my protective clothing and my equipment. They are key factors for what I do up here at the arctic circle.

I was dead tired and simply put it was about processing the file stream, make the first images available to the blog and the safari company and I went to bed early to get some extra sleep before the night regime took over again.
The parameters were not really good but whatever they were... the cloud deck was 100% and delivering snow so... if the Aurora would be there she'd have to be real strong to show her colour through a thick, snowy, moonlit deck. Once at Kätkävaara Anthony was convinced that he had seen something. He pointed at the camera screen showing a black and white colour picture which he found to be somewhat on the vaguely greenish side. Now that small LCD is far from trustworthy but If anyone should be taken seriously it is Anthony after having done this for ten consecutive years day in and out for complete nights as he is a nocturnal animal as no other. Vampires are his students. I now have 'only' 118 days logged here in Lapland and a few at home but they are hardly worth mentioning. It is more that I keep a regular eye on the techdata on the apps but I simply cannot confirm anything simply because I am not there...

Anthony turned out to be right but it took me all my skills to pull that data out of my RAW file and I really know what I'm doing... The image here under is that image. The question remains how much of the green in the upper right corner survives the compressions and colour quality disasters along the way to your screen but here on my Mac laptop which is quite good at colours and thus undoubtedly at home on my calibrated and profiled monitor it does show.

Faintest ever Aurora

We were discussing why the Aurora was so stubborn in not showing like she should at the top of the solar cycle AND at the equinox. We could only reach the one remaining conclusion... Aurora doesn't read all the apps and doesn't know when we expect her... Which by the way goes for those damn clouds as well🤪

At this moment (13.56 UTC) the parameters are looking very good and Alaska has a sky full but we still have hours to go to get enough darkness. The thing is: will this all last long enough to give us what we now see at the webcam in Alaska? Meanwhile the Magnetometer in Kiruna is climbing high. Let's just hope it keeps that strength until 20:00 tonight because after that the gap in the sky over Lapland that is just arriving here, will close again.

I am keeping a close eye on my 4 favorite apps with 4 in reserve that I mainly use to crosscheck when disputes occur. The values remain very interesting for now.

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22 March: Double deception

19:50hrs: 'ping'... 'ping', 'ping'... 'ping'
I was just returning from Dreamland as i heard my phone impatiently and nervously pinging. Some scoundrel trying to get me awake? How dare he...😡... eh... wait a minute...🤯 what is going on? Veli amongst others but he got my immediate attention. 'Can you be ready for pickup at 20:15?'... Oops... One of those legendary moments that waking up is not needed and 1 to 100% active happens in a negative time frame. "YES!"... "NO!", "I just woke up, have to gear up!, gimme till 20:30!". Usually I took a relaxed hour to finish packing my gear and dress all layers by a rhythm and mental checklist which ensures me of being complete for the night. That had to be compressed severely now. It just doesn't happen often that Veli blows the whistle and picks me up early and it is seldom without reason. My ADHD and giftedness both teamed up and bulldozered relentlessly over my autism and a 200% hyperfocus kicked me fully completed to the front entrance of the guesthouse even before Veli arrived.

I was baffled by what I saw when I stepped out. A full ☁️☁️cloud☁️☁️🌨cover☁️☁️ with the first signs of snow and just a short last sight of the Moon trying desperately to punch thru the clouds. While on our way to Kätkävaara I checked my satellite images and was perplexed by what I saw. The cloudformation over the northern part of Sweden and the gap reaching to Finland had been there all day moving like the backoffice of Finnair, remember that braking snail reaching a curve in the road? Well... that snail had ramped up and promoted itself for an Olympic record as it was steaming up to Finland with a speed that finally took to the normal violent volatile behaviour that has so oftten saved the Kätkävarian day, or night for that matter... However now it was going to be a full scale disaster.

When we arrived the sky had fully closed and the Moons last attempt didn't make it any further than a pathetic last glow resulting in its final demise for this night.

Animal tracks 1 Animal tracks 2

As Shoja wouldn't arrive for another hour I was on my way to the large Kota to start the fire and enjoy the deafening silence of the snow. Several animal tracks were my company but the animals itself don't show themselves easily to humans as hunting is a common activity apart from some partly protected species.

In the meanwhile the first snow had called its friends and family and all came to a merry reunion🌨❄️
So all the hope that had built up during the day was gone. No chance whatsoever on any light beside the one on my head or in the Kota.

This morning the problems with the software that gets my website going seem to have disappeared. But I don't trust it anymore and took the old 2023 blog offline in order to build a new one with the same system I am using for this blog. I just can't add the photos at this moment as my main image database is obviously at home.


Tonight... no night has been looking this bad. All three apps and two satellite and two radar reports agree on heavy clouds and snow for tonight.
The parameters show nothing that keep me on the edge except for that Coronal Hole and sunspot group 3615 but if they do not deliver within 24 hours my chances are gone and this trip will settle amongst the worst.

No tour tonight.

My last hope is focussed on sunspot 3615 (left in the circle) and the Coronal Hole (black post on the right)

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23 March: Data management

Yesterday was horrible which left me with time to sort things out. One of them being the renaming of some 4500 files as something weird happend during uploading to my laptop. Luckily I have Forklift which makes life on these issues very easy. I had to rename over 2220 and then update my safety copy on one of my external SSD drives. I could have chosen for a backup but a safety copy is more helpful in this case. Most time is lost in figuring out what went wrong and where it did so. The rest is hardware speed which is quite ok.

Cloud layers Cloud map
In the department of the parameters there is some seemingly good news and al little bit of good news. My goto app about sky conditions tells me about the layers in the clouds and how dense they are. My goto app for the satellite imaging shows me a map and total cloudcover and also a hint of its density. Both show that there may be a chance to see something which hopefully will come true latest monday evening which is my last evening here. Sunspot 3615 is finally coming to life and together with spot 3614 has been producing M and X class flares and one satellite showed an actual CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). Remaning question: will it come to us and will it do so in time for me?

The X.1.12 flare from spot 3614 is Earthbound and ETA is Monday 04:01 EET... Guess what? All three apps report a closed cloud deck at that time...☁️☁️☁️😡😭☁️☁️☁️

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24 March: Unexpected stage

As my 14th trip to Rovaniemi is nearing its end it is almost time to check in to my flight. That has become a routine not the least for getting seats to my liking. But the seats have already been booked...💺👍🏻 That was taken care of at the time, 7 months ago, when I booked the flight and Inge was to accompany me. Though obviously not expected we did anticipate the problem that took her out of this trip so luckily I got that ticket refunded. She'll be with me in another six months.

Two nights left... and both sky and solarwind don't look really promising. Last night however had a surprise in stock. When I left my appartement I was looking at a full Moon. And a few stars😳😃. Ok... that's new...
The sky looked promising and so did the parameters and on our way I glued my nose to the window staring into the darkish sky behind the trees and street lighting on the Kemi motorway 4/E75. For normal aurora appearances this is useless but the parameters were high up and rising so I classified this situation as out of the ordinary. And that paid off! At some 2/3 of that road I saw the lights clearly through all the light pollution by streetlights and the full Moon and an immediate conference between Anthony and me resulted in the strategy to follow on where and when to stop under which circumstances. It is not just pulling over and throw everyone on the parking spot. Beside the mentioned factors there is this thing of crowd. How many people can the parking spots handle? They are after all open and directly next to the Avaasaksa road where cars go by at high speed with full lighting. Absolutely not without danger and safety allways comes first.
So we decided to take the second one only 5 minutes further down the road. Bingo! A big arch was right on top of us moving south...
But it was already dissipating so we swiftly went on to the next stop where we found this:

Pano K-road

The ten minute stop ended when also this display faded and just 5 minutes after that Anthony slammed the brakes as another display started. But... the cloud cover was recovering from its unexpected gap that had been there all the time since I left my appartement. It started producing cloud out of nowhere, welcome to the South-Laplandish weathersystem😕
That all happened between 20:00 and 20:18 UTC so you can sync that with where ever you saw something yourself. We moved on to our destination but we got no more Aurora that evening. That is to say... with a full Moon making the clouds glow it was very hard te tell if there was anything. But the thin spots in the clouds thru which my cameras can peek also revealed nothing.

A kind of frustrating thing is that though the KP-value, which determines more or less how far south on the planet the lights can possibly be seen, was only 5. While reports and photos appear that even in the south of The Netherlands high reaching purple pillars appeared. Very good and happy for them but... yeah... quite 🤬🤬🤬 for us here.

The shockwave preceding the X1.12 flare from spot 3614 has reached our planet and the parameters are way up high. I'm eating my heart out, this is utterly frustrating. It is still full daylight and the sky is half open. One app gives hope on a partial open sky tonight and one is moving toward that forecast too. Oh boy, this is way earlier than expected as the speed of this flare is around 800km/sec!

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25 March: App found trustworthy.

My blog entry will be somewhat later due to some things to take care off. Don't worry... just later🙂. It will be a shorter one today.

So... Siberia got the big one but I doubt if we will be seeing some of that. By the time Europe slided under The Oval (the shape of the northerm lights as a ring centered by the magnetic pole) most activity was fairly moderate. My app Weather Pro was the only one predicting few clouds and it was more than spot on! The sky was clear and empty when I was picked up. My other two are no match for this app at this moment. It is not for no reason that I've got three apps. I got some nice pictures but that was it. We stopped along the way at our usual points and got a few opportunities but Aurora was swift and pale under the moonlight. These photos are extremely difficult to process without clipping the contrasts and highlights. Also Kätkävaara gave a few good opportunities until the clouds came in. Not that the deck fully closed but less interesting for photography.


to be continued later...

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26 March: Again against all odds a clear sky and... businessclass return flight

I still have about 30 minutes left to write this entry. My two big suitcases, a midsize bag and my backpack are all ready to go. Last night turned out to be clear and my WeatherPro app was the only one being right. I like that one increasingly more🙂. The only thing that was missing was Lady Aurora. On our way... I swear I was right... I saw her. It couldn't have been a reflection in the car window because what I saw wasn't there any more after we got everybody back in the car. The rest of the night she was gone only to wave me goodbye one more time on our way home.

last image

As I was assessing the items I had bought here and the things I still had on my list I was also checking in on my flights home. It occurred to me that businessclass was in my reach of Avios (saving points) and it provided me with the extra luggage and weight that I would need. And all the extras that come with it ain't to bad either to be honest. So businessclass it became... And having the luck to get the last available seat in that class😱🫣

123 days logged in Lapland. Going home with some 6500 photos, a load of experience richer and a new dear friend in Sofia who sets the counter for my very close Finnish friends to four and makes the Finnish part of my important and deepest friendships the bigger one.

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Most recent edit:
28 march 2024
UTC: 22:26
CET: 23:26
EET: 00:26

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