Shooting auroras was one of the (few ) things still missing from my hardcore amateur astronomer checklist. Back in 2012 and 2013 some friends of mine, among whom Lorenzo Comolli, had gone on aurora-chasing trips with very encouraging results. The auroral activity is not always present, or, better, it is rather frequent but highly unpredictable, with a higher probability of events in the years around solar activity maximum and in the months around the equinoxes (February, March, September and October). It was something I’d been thinking about for a long time, but I’d never managed to find a good opportunity and the right people with whom to share this experience. Moreover, the solar activity was slowly fading and for this reason I had to hurry up.
In late 2013, I finally got around to organizing an “expedition” with some good friends of mine (Paola Battaglia, Filippo Riccio e Stefano Magni of the “Circolo Astrofili di Milano”) from Saturday, January 25, 2014 till Saturday, February 1st, 2014.
Our choice got almost immediately in favor of Tromso, in Northern Norway, for some very good reasons. It is a rather big, modern and organized city lying at the right latitude (around 70° N) on the shores of the Northern Atlantic Ocean, with a climate largely mitigated by the Gulf Stream. The downside to this is that the whole area is exposed to cloud fronts and low pressure areas coming from the Atlantic: hence the high cloud cover figures typical of this area. My proposal to go to Lapland got turned down right away, because in exchange for unquestionably clearer skies, it has a much harsher climate (average temperatures from -20 to -15 °C vs. -6 °C of the Tromso area).