The aurora borealis is one of the most spectacular natural weather phenomena someone can witness. Most of us will never see it at all (though there are a few places where you can up your chances) and few of us will see it in a way that can be captured on camera with such beautiful transportive results. Peter Mather, a conservation photographer and fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers, says: "I've been working for four years on the shot. It takes a really powerful solar storm to create northern lights strong enough that they will show up on an image exposed for the lights of the city. Last week, we had two nights of northern lights that were strong enough. Really, the best aurora I've seen in the last four years."

aurora with city lights

His dedication to the shot is clear. Most of us wouldn't hunker down in the pre-dawn cold of the far north for a photo. But we're sure glad Mather did!

"I was up till 4 a.m. each night, working these shots. The shots are on cliffs above Whitehorse not far from my house. I don't normally shoot northern lights — most my work is environmental photojournalism — but I was trying to capture the reasons why people live in the North … the sense of adventure and the 'awe' of our landscapes."

aurora borealis over city

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Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

After 4 years of waiting, photographer captures northern lights in spectacular show
Conservation photographer Peter Mather captured these amazing shots of the aurora borealis, or the northern lights.