Lights, Camera…Aurora! Check Out The Best Northern Lights Pics of 2023

Few genres of photography stir the urge to go out and explore quite like the aurora borealis.

Technically, these lights are the result of charged electrons and protons colliding with gases in Earth’s atmosphere. But if you’re as chemistry-ignorant as I am, and that sentence means basically nothing to you, let’s just call them “magic lights.”

And anyway, the science behind this natural phenomenon can’t explain why it captivates us — especially photographers.

In the spirit of celebrating this polar spectacle, the 6th edition of the Northern Lights Photographer of the Year showcases the 25 most stunning images of the aurora borealis from around the globe.

From the remote subarctic forests to the landscapes of Australia and New Zealand, this photographic journey will leave you desperate to strap on a backpack and head out of civilization. The featured image above was one of the finalists (and probably my favorite of the bunch).

Check out several of the competition’s other winners below.


Northern lights above Alaska. Photo: Nickolas Warner

Overall winner: ‘Storm over Sukakpak’ by Nickolas Warner

Sukakpak Mountain is located in Alaska’s Brooks Range, an area known even in The Last Frontier as one of the state’s most unspoiled wildernesses.

So it’s no surprise that Warner managed to snap a particularly wild shot.

“That night, there was an expectation of an X-Class flare hitting, so I knew we needed to head somewhere great. We took our chances and decided to drive an hour north from our accommodation to capture Sukakpak Mountain in all its glory,” Warner wrote.

I’d say he pulled it off.


With “Lost Who I Want To Be,’ the photog captured both an aurora and the beauty of New Zealand. Photo: Jordan McInally

‘Lost Who I Want To Be’ by Jordan McInally

With the reflection of New Zealand’s Moke Lake below, McInally captured something special with this one.

“I was pretty lucky this night to have a few friends message me a heads-up that a big Aurora Australis was forecast, so I had just enough time to rush to this local spot with a painfully steep ascent, watching beams start to dance across the horizon as the sunlight was fading!” he wrote for Capture The Atlas.


A Welsh castle provides the perfect subject for this amazing aurora image. Photo: Mathew Browne

‘Goleuada’r Gogledd’ by Mathew Browne

This fantastical image proves two things: Every name sounds cooler in Welsh and every photograph is better with a castle in it.

The title comes from the Welsh name for Northern Lights, and the gothic edifice belongs to Paxton’s Tower, “a hilltop folly with a history spanning over 200 years, overlooks the picturesque Carmarthenshire countryside,” Browne wrote.

“For over an hour, the horizon beyond the clouds emitted hues of green and pink. However, for a brief yet magical moment, the sky came alive with impressive pink pillars, visible to the naked eye.”

This is just a taste of the many incredible photos available on Capture The Atlas‘ page of this year’s competition winners.

All 25 finalists are definitely worth your time.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.