As someone who was fortunate enough to see the northern lights in the lower 48 last year, this is good advice. Keep your eye on the forecast; unless you're far up north, good opportunities don't come along too often. Find a dark spot in the country with a good view, and be patient since they do ebb and flow. Although it can vary based on the space weather, your best chance is usually around midnight, and you can get frequent updates here http://helios.swpc.noaa.gov/ovation/
It took me a couple tries to finally see them the first time. And even that night, for the longest time, until my eyes adjusted, I thought I was just seeing hazy clouds. Every once in a while it would light up with color overhead, but sadly those only lasted a few minutes. Most of the time it was pretty faint, but still an amazing experience, and yes a long exposure is a must to get a decent photo!
Wish I had mod points, because I couldn't agree more. If you've been there that long, you might as well make the leap to management. Although it may not always seem like it, companies desperately need people in charge who know what they're doing. Demonstrate that you have the 'people' skills and know how to present to upper mgmt, and you're probably a shoe in.
I have a friend that was in the same situation a while back. They had been an expert for years with new managers rotating in every 12 months or so. Being new, the managers were terrible at understanding what was going on, and even more terrible at explaining to upper mgmt, which only served to make the rest of the group look bad. Finally after 3-4 years of this they just told their director they were considering their career options but what they were really interested in was being a manager as soon as a position opened up. The implied threat of course, is that they were willing to leave. This is the kind of thing that gets things moving. They were promoted within the month. So if I were you, I'd give it a shot, but take a look around and see what else is out there. If nothing else, maybe you'll get a raise or some perks while you're looking at other options.