Amazing Images Show Northern Lights as Seen by Naked Eye (Photos)

Aurora Borealis and Milky Way Over Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

While observing the aurora borealis is a truly awe-inspiring and often breathtaking experience, the images that come out of modern-day cameras do not match what an observer witnesses in real life.

Mike Taylor has photographed fantastic Northern Lights displays, and then modified the captured images to reflect the less-dramatic colors and hues seen by the naked eye. These slides show "true" scenes of auroras — captured by Taylor's camera — each followed by desaturated images that reflect what a human eye would see.

Taylor wrote: “When I captured this image, I saw ‘dancing lights’ in the sky, spiking straight up starting around a few hundred feet off the ground. They waved a bit like curtains, but stayed in basically the same area. They seemed to be kind of a blur though — the ‘spikes’ were not well defined. There was definitely a green hue on the horizon and a bit of red color above that, but I didn't see the crazy red and magenta colors that my camera recorded. I saw what appeared to be white/grey ‘curtains’ dancing along the black sky.”

Aurora Borealis Over Pemaquid Point Lighthouse: Modified

This image shows the Northern Lights and the Milky Way over Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Maine on March 17, 2013. Photographer Mike Taylor modified the image to reflect the less-dramatic colors and hues seen by the naked eye.

Aurora Borealis Dances Over Unity Pond Train Tracks

This image shows the aurora borealis over Unity Pond, Maine captured by Mike Taylor on July 15, 2013.

Taylor wrote: “During this aurora, I didn't see much of anything, but I set up, started shooting and immediately saw green on the horizon—on my camera screen. I set the camera to shoot 30-second exposures for an hour, with just a few seconds in between, so that I could quickly review the scenes on the LCD screen as my camera snapped away. Within 10 minutes or so, I saw sharp spikes or columns shooting up and slowly moving across the sky.

To my eye they appeared to be a light violet-purple color, enough that I actually posted a status update to Facebook at 2:24 a.m. that said, ‘You know the aurora is cranked up when you can see the purple spikes with your naked eye.’ When the display died down, I quickly looked through my images but I didn't really know the spikes were blue until I viewed them on my computer.”

Aurora Borealis Dances Over Unity Pond Train Tracks: Modified

This image shows the aurora borealis over Unity Pond, Maine on July 15, 2013. Photographer Mike Taylor modified the image to reflect the less-dramatic colors and hues seen by the naked eye.

Aurora Borealis Arc Covers Night Sky Over Pond

This amazing image shows the Northern Lights shining over a small pond in central Maine. The photo was captured by Mike Taylor in October 2013.

Taylor wrote: “This was the most impressive oval I've ever seen, a perfect arc which covered the Northern sky's horizon. The tallest and crispest ‘spikes’ I've witnessed, reaching all the way to the stars. Again, I saw definite green around the oval at the horizon, but the spikes themselves were white-grey, not the intense red that my camera captured.”

Aurora Borealis Arc Covers Night Sky Over Pond: Modified

This image shows the Northern Lights shining over a small pond in central Maine in October 2013. Photographer Mike Taylor modified the image to reflect the less-dramatic colors and hues seen by the naked eye.

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