FACT CHECK: Does This Picture Show The Northern Lights In Finland?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook over 2,000 times purportedly shows the northern lights in Finland.

Verdict: False

The effect visible in the picture was created through the use of long exposure photography. An expert confirmed the image does not show the northern lights.

Fact Check:

The image shows what appears to be a white, serpentine pattern streaking across a night sky. “This is the Aurora Borealis in Finland,” the caption claims. “It is called, ‘The Hem of His Garment.'”

The aurora borealis, also called the northern lights, are waves of colored lights that are sometimes visible in the night sky, according to the Library of Congress. The library explains the lights are the result of “ions or atoms being energized as they collide with the atmosphere” and are most frequently visible in places like Alaska, Canada and Antarctica.

The image, however, does not show the northern lights. A reverse image search reveals the photo was first shared on a Russian forum in 2010. “A fluorescent lamp can glow not only from a direct supply of electricity, but also from a powerful electromagnetic field located next to the lamp,” reads a translated version of the post’s Russian-language caption. The user who posted the image shared it along with several other similar photographs and claimed to have created them using a photography technique known as long exposure.

Marc Adamus, a photographer featured in Capture the Atlas‘ “2021 Northern Lights Photographer of the Year” list, told Check Your Fact via email there was “zero chance that is a shot of the Aurora.” (RELATED: Does This Image Show The Northern Lights In Alaska?)

“You can create the effect depicted in that image by using an illuminated (with flash light) white flag or curtain and waving it around at night during a long exposure,” said Adamus.

Virgil Reglioni, a French photographer who specializes in photos of the northern lights, likewise said he did not believe the image showed the lights. “I am pretty sure this picture is not an aurora borealis for several reasons,” said Reglioni in an email to Check Your Fact. “This spectrum of color does not fit with auroral activity, also cameras are able to capture way more frequencies of lights so more colors.”

Check Your Found no evidence or credible news reporting to suggest there is an astronomical phenomenon known as “the Hem of His Garment.”

This is not the first time an image has been mistakenly shared as a photo of the northern lights. Check Your Fact previously debunked a claim from November 2021 that allegedly showed the northern lights in Alaska but was actually a piece of digital artwork.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter