THUNDER BAY — Lots of city and area residents are heading outdoors in the dark this month and pointing their cameras to the sky.
The Northern Lights are putting on a spectacle and will continue to do so in the coming months as the aurora borealis heads toward the peak of its 11-year cycle.
"We're expecting a good, active winter, and we're expecting the shows to get better and better," said Al Stecky, a local photographer and stargazer who is a member of the Thunder Bay Starchasers Facebook group
The colourful displays in the sky occur when charged particles from a solar storm collide with gases in Earth's upper atmosphere, creating light energy.
To view them and take photos, Stecky recommends going out about 90 minutes after sunset, but said the lights can ebb and flow in intensity over the ensuing hours.
"If it's a more powerful [geomagnetic] storm, you will be able to see it in town over the glow of the city lights...but you generally do better if you can just get outside the city. The less ambient light around, the better you'll see it. You don't see the colours with your naked eye. You see the show moving up and down and the bands of light in the sky. It's the cameras that really bring out the colours."
A high-end camera and a longer exposure will create the best photos, but Stecky noted that even a cell phone camera with a tripod can bring decent results.
"It just depends on how much you want to immerse yourself in it."