A question many people are unsure of is ‘when is the best time to see the northern lights?’ As you’d expect, due to their very nature difficult to give a straight answer to this question! Much has been written of the current ‘solar max’ and this winter is expected to be one of the best in years for aurora displays as solar activity will be intense as the sun reaches its cyclical peak.
However you don’t need to wait 11 years for optimum aurora viewing. The auroras peak twice yearly around the time of the equinoxes – both the autumnal in September and the Vernal in March. According to physicists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this is when geomagnetic storms are strongest and these storms are usually the cause of the aurora.
Whilst last winter proved fantastic all season long for providing spectacular displays, we can testify that March certainly lived up to expectations. Some visitors to Swedish Lapland can sometimes be treated to magnificent aurora every single night of their stay: some displays lasted throughout the night! However, admittedly, this is exceptional and not everyone will be this fortunate, but their experience certainly does support the science.
Over the 30 years northern lights holidays have grown in popularity and tour operators have discovered some of the very best locations from where to see them, and can certainly advise on the best conditions for viewing the mystical aurora. Should you travel to Swedish Lapland then it is highly recommend that you aim to stay one night at Abisko Mountain station (exclusively available through Discover the World in the UK) where you can take a ride to the Aurora Sky Station. This, combined with a stay at the Icehotel, is expected to offer some of the best opportunities for seeing the aurora this winter. At the Icehotel you can enjoy a host of northern lights excursions including a nightly ‘northern lights chase by mini-bus’ and aurora sightseeing flights. If the lights do appear, you’ll be in the best place(s) to view them!