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Experience the night sky over Bornholm

Stars cannot shine without darkness

Ruslan Merzlyakov

Astrophotographer

As someone who only photographs the stars and chases sky phenomena, I am always looking forward to the cold and dark autumn and winter months. These are my favourite seasons, when it comes to stargazing, experiencing the majestic Milky Way and hunting for the Northern Lights. Days are getting shorter, but we get more time to enjoy our fantastic and unique night sky.

Bornholm on the wish list

Since I got my interest for astrophotography (and especially for nightscapes) back in 2011, Bornholm has always been on my wish list among other beautiful locations in the Scandinavian countries, which I wanted to explore and experience through the camera lens. Even though I always wanted to visit the island, it happened only now, in October 2020, when I took a quick road trip to Bornholm for the first time. The trip was absolutely wonderful, and every second was worth it.

The starry night sky in fall and winter

The Danish Autumn weather can be completely unpredicted, but if you take a chance, it is possible to achieve big success. Driving more than 500 km from the Mors island in Northern Jutland to Bornholm through the entire country with only one specific goal, to photograph nightscapes in the middle of October, could have ended either with happiness or disappointment – but Bornholm’s nature was on my side and filled with magic! Although it was rainy and windy weather most of the time – at night it was still possible to enjoy starlight, silence and peace. Besides the many Milky Way-photographs over Bornholm’s beautiful views, which I was able to bring home, something special happened: the trip’s culmination point was a rare and totally unexpected sight of the red Northern Lights! For the past 7 years, I have observed Aurora more than 50 times here in Denmark, but it was my Southernmost experience of the Northern Lights out by the Hammershus castle ruins at 55°N.

3 places you should go watch the night sky on Bornholm

Bornholm is packed with beautiful sceneries and the most unique landscapes in Denmark – and it takes days just to explore island’s North-West coast. From the places that I was able to visit during my short stay on the island, I already have found my favorite ones:

1. Hammershus castle ruins

Hammershus castle ruins – here it is quite easy to get around in the darkness with the help of wide pathways that lead all the way up to the castle. The view of the 800-year old castle under the night sky gives an absolutely unique feeling!

 

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2. Lake Opalsøen

Lake Opalsøen – can be found close to Allinge and has great parking facilities. Just by taking a walk around the lake, you will find many different scenes under different parts of our home galaxy – and if you are lucky with the weather, you’ll even see the stars dancing in the lake!

 

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3. Gudhjem

Gudhjem – probably, one of the most unique locations in Denmark with the local version of the famous Horseshoe Bend. On top of the hill you will find a bench, from which you can enjoy the fantastic view in combination with the star filled sky. In both Autumn and Winter, the most visible part of the Milky Way hangs right above the road bend!

 

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The starry sky on Bornholm, in fall

Autumn is the best time for stargazing and enjoying the beautiful night sky on Bornholm, because you can enjoy both summer- and winter star pictures. In the evenings, you will experience Milky Way standing as a pillar rising right above the horizon. After midnight, Winter constellations will begin to shine.

In the fall the sun starts to set earlier and earlier, but that’s a good thing for stargazing – because then there’s no need to stay awake until late in the night, and only start your observations there. In October you can already enjoy the milky way as soon as 7 o’clock in the evening.

In October you can see the Orionids meteor shower, and those with a telescope or a great camera can see the Andromeda galaxy.

The Winter Night of Bornholm

In the wintertime, darkness dominates the sky above Denmark – especially on Bornholm! The nights are long, and that’s a great thing if you want to go out into the dark and observe the stars.

When the air gets colder and much cleaner – you will see the stars flickering like diamonds as tiny ice particles fill the crisp winter air. Follow the path of the Orion’s belt down to the left and you will see the brightest star of our night sky – Sirius. When the star is rising above the horizon, at first it might look like a UFO! It flickers vigorously because of the stars powerful brightness when it shines through the earth’s atmosphere.

The king of all the meteor showers, Geminids, shows its full power in mid-December with up to 120 colorful meteors per hour. While the radiant is in the heart of the Gemini constellation, you’ll still be able to see bright meteors flying across the entire night sky. If you’re on Bornholm right before Christmas eve, you’ll also be able to see the Ursids meteor shower

Good apps and webpages for the night sky

Are you not the best at recognizing the constellations and finding the andromeda galaxy, then don’t lose hope. Luckily a long rack of apps has been developed, to help you find different constellations and the phenomena that’s worth seeing the night you’re out. Here’s three apps I recommend:

You can also follow the forecast for the northern lights at aurora-service.eu or aurora-alerts.com. Even though a lot of things repeats itself yearly on our night sky, there from time to time are some special phenomena – as an example: In 2020 comet C / 2020 F3 (also called NEOWISE a lot of places) was seen in a period of time. If you follow spaceweather.com you’ll always be updated.

About the author

Ruslan Merzlyakov is a professional and award-winning astrophotographer with more than 7-years of experience with photographing the night sky. He was chosen for Astronomy Photographer of the Year (2017, 2018, 2019) and won the Dark Sky award in 2019.

As a pioneer and leading photographer in the nightscape-genre in Denmark, Ruslan’s works have been published in national and international media, such as NASA, National Geographic, BBC, Forbes, TV2, DR1, Digital Foto and others.

Ruslan Merzlyakov had worked with companies like VisitDenmark, Visit Norway, Vordingborg and Thisted Municipalities, Aarhus University and Dark Sky Møn.

See more astrophotographs on his Instagram here: @astrorms

 

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Experience the winter island of Bornholm
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Try these 10 winter activities on Bornholm for couples
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