Tag : northern-lights
Tag : northern-lights
If you’re a traveler—as I assume you are since you’re reading this website—then seeing the magnificent northern lights is a must. The swirling light displays across a starry winter sky will literally take your breath away and will remain in your memory forever.
There are really only two critical elements that you need to keep in mind when it comes to spotting the northern lights. 1) Be at a very high latitude and 2) Be there in the winter. While these aerial expositions can never be 100% guaranteed, you can maximize your chances of catching a glimpse of the northern lights from locations like Iceland, Alaska, Central Scandinavia and Northern Canada.
This magical phenomenon occurs when a stream of charged particles radiated by the sun, interact with the Earth’s upper atmosphere, this is why it’s easiest to see them from the northern most areas of the world.
Another factor in seeing the northern lights is the level of solar activity. The activity is determined by a cycle of the sun, lasting approximately 11 years. Luckily for us, the most recent of the sun’s cycles is supposed to culminate starting this winter and lasting through the next couple of years.
There are a ton of different ways to get up north and catch the Aurora Borealis in action, even though it lasts only a couple of minutes. You can view them on you own, hiking in the Canadian tundra. You can take a northern lights cruise in Norway. You can even go on various Northern lights holiday expeditions. Experiences like these are offered from various companies; Eclipse Holidays offers tours lasting from five to ten days.
Boasting events such as snowmobiling, visits to the Aurora Sky Station and other winter sport related activities; these Northern Lights catered vacations are great for the young and mature alike. Typically, these trips are led by astronomy experts who are full of anecdotes and explanations that will leave you hungry to return and see them again. This season it has been common for the Northern Lights to be visible daily in the aforementioned locations, so get out there and see those lights, personally I prefer the Iceland northern lights, but they’re all amazing!
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!