This is definitely one of my longest and hardest hunt ever! More than 1.5 years for a 30 minutes show! It was definitely worth it!

In 2016 I got informed that it was possible to see the Aurora Borealis in Quebec. From that moment, I got obsessed by the Northern Lights. The hunt was On.

Every time I would meet  a new person I would ask them if they had seen some northern lights. Most of the time, they didn’t but in a few cases, they actually did. In that case, I would immediately ask them, what month/season, What time, Where, and the meteo conditions. Gathering intelligence on Northern Lights wasn’t an easy thing to do.

Fortunately for me, there was a Facebook Group dedicated to Northern Lights Hunters in Québec. Those people were real true passionate about the Aurora Borealis, they would share their best spots to see some, their best photos, their best advices, and techniques, and all of that, for free.

That’s how I learned to read the forecast for Northern Lights.

Because of how dedicated they were, I had access to a map, full of every single location where Northern Lights had been seen. Great isn’t it?

I had two reference websites to tell me if Northern Lights would be in the sky, to make it short, I had a grade from 1-10, the higher the grade number, the better the chances to see them.

Since I didn’t have a car, I was depending only on my capacity to persuade people to come with me (pay two full tanks of gas), drive for hours on evenings to maybe, if we were lucky, see some northern lights. Yeah not the easiest thing to do right?

It’s funny how chasing one goal can actually better you on a lot of different things.

Looking for Northern Lights taught me persuasion, as well as determination, passion and patience. 

I spent a year and a half looking for northern lights, some hunts were close, so close I would have illusions of seeing them in the dark. Some other hunts, were so long that I would wish to get home quick in order to go to bed. 

In October 2017, I had motivated one of my very good school friends Jean-Sebastien we’ll call him (JS) to join me on ALL the hunts, (well “join me” should more be, “trust me to pick me up, and drive hours in some unknown remote places to wait”). 

JS was a super kind, open minded person, and he desperately wanted to see the lights (perfect because he would need a desperate will to actually see them). 

On Tuesday November 7th, a big party was about to be held at the University bar. JS and my other close friend BenJ (I’ll introduce him later since you will hear A LOT about him), joined at BenJ’s place to watch a movie before setting of for the bar at 11PM (23:00). For JS it was kind of the last break before the Exam since the next day we had an exam at 9 am. I was to join them, although I don’t drink, I had really worked hard on that exam and wanted to get the stress out of my head, the ambiance would be enough to do so, but Mother Nature, had other plans for me:

As I had seen the previous day that the likelyhood of seeing northern lights was turning to a “hunt is on” point for today (tuesday), wednesday and thursday, I checked at 5pm (17:00) for the grade. Guess what, it was a 10!

10 out of 10! We had 30% chances of seeing northern lights here in southern Québec, (when we would usually have between 5-8% chances).


I prepared my expedition backpack (see in My Gear section), and my gopro batteries. I had bought a Gopro hero 4 a few month before because it had the Nightlapse feature and I was dreaming of making a nightlapse of the northern lights.

While everything was charging, I picked two spots to see the lights. Prepared the fastest way to get there, and checked every info on the solar activity to make sure everything was ok.

At 7:30pm we joined at Ben’s place, I presented to them the whole plan, we re-checked the spots and I decided we would head to Saint-Raymond on the road 367N. 

8:10pm we set off from Trois-Rivières, I have my lucky watch on my wrist, we have just tanked JS’s car, let’s go for the show!

10 pm: We have found a spot where we can park and stay to enjoy the show, it forms a Y (we’ll call it “spot Y”). From there, I can see the north so I’m pretty confident. We agreed to look a little longer for another better spot so we started moving again.

10h50 pm: Still nothing, we are heading back to spot Y

11h pm: We arrived at spot Y, there, the boys started checking at google maps and told me the north was opposite from where I was looking. It was weird, I had learned how to see the north with the stars, and at that moment, I was stairing at both the Ursa Major constellation and the North Star “Polaris”. When I checked behind me, I could see Orion (pointing to the south). Maybe I was wrong after all, we went back on the road, again.

After 15 minutes of useless driving, I told the boys it was enough, we would go back to spot one. I knew we had a view on the North so let’s stop listening to google. 

Back at the spot Y,  I showed them both the north star and the Ursa Major, still BenJ tod mme he would bet 200$ it wasn’t right, according to google maps, we weren’t facing the north.

I took the time to show everything again to him, he checked back on his phone and realised I was right, so we started unpacking the car and looking at the horizon.

At 11h30pm: A cloud on the Horizon line was looking very glowy, we realized it was  hiding the whole show, but soon enough, the green part from behind the cloud started to spread out everywhere and the show started.

I quickly took the gopro did a first shot, then moved it, and started the nightlapse.

There was no words to describe such beauty in the sky, such an incredible phenomenon. I was mind blown, completely mesmerized and seduced by the beauty of the show.

I think that even the best northern light shot cannot reflect how gorgeous they truly are. It warmed our souls in the -7°c off that first night of Canadian winter.

Even better, 20 minutes after the show started, we heard packs of coyotes yipping and barking.

11:50 pm: After an incredible show, the horizon line turned black again. I checked my app, the next big show would normally be at 2 am, unfortunately with that exam on the next morning, we couldn’t afford to get home at 5. It was time to leave, but we were happy, that’s all that counted. We left for an hour drive with an undescriptible mood, it was just wonderful. Finally after a year and a half of learning loads of things on astro physics just to see them, my efforts paid off. After numerous tries, it worked! I had won a challenge against myself!

I finally got back home at 1:30 am, and honestly couldn’t wait to check at my pictures although I had little hope to see some actual shots of the lights. I hold my breath for 5 seconds, opened the first image and jumped to the rooftop:

My very first northern lights. Captured on Gopro Hero 4. © Elias Neil B

I was so excited that I was shaking, I immediately did two backups of the photos. The fulfillment was full, I had seen AND captured the Northern Lights. I  sent a photo to  JS, he was blown away! 

After that I took my watch off and went to sleep.

The next morning I was afraid all of it was just a dream, but by checking at my computer, I happily saw that it was not. What was at that time my longest hunt, was finally a success.

If you are wondering, I did great at my exam that day (and believe me I was struggling with school), and passed the course 😉

Dancing lights during early winter. Quebec, Canada. © Elias Neil B

If you want to see the small documentary I made on the northern lights (including this story and the nightlapse recorded that night), you can check it out right here


If you want to learn how you can see Northern Lights, check the link right here


Want the full story with every details from my first to my last light hunt ? Check out my book in the link below


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