Nordic Northern Lights
Every winter you can watch a spectacular light in the Nordic region - this phenomenon called the Northern Lights you can discover in five Nordic countries.
In the northern part of the region, you find the best places in the world to watch the Northern Lights also known as 'Aurora Borealis'. When looking up in the sky the Northern Lights dance across the firmament in marvellous colours, a firework created by nature itself. Seeing the Northern Lights is almost impossible to describe and it is one of the amazing nordic natural highlight experience.
What are the Northern Lights
They are usually but not always green lights that can be seen from the far north of the Nordic countries, Alaska and northern parts of Canada.
But what are the Northern Lights actually? The Northern Lights are a result of interactions between charged particles from the sun and air atoms high in the atmosphere. The air lights up when large numbers of electrically charged particles with a high-speed stream in towards the Earth along its magnetic field and collide with the highest air particles.
Most Northern Lights occur between 90 and 130 km above sea level, but some extend to several hundred kilometres up. Therefore it is possible to watch it at horizontal distances of several hundred kilometres.
The reason, why it is possible to watch this natural phenomenon in the Nordic countries, is because of the strength of the earth`s magnetic field is stronger near the poles. The lights are normally green, but they can be many other colours and can move or shimmer.
The name "Aurora Borealis" was given by a French philosopher ”Pierre Gassendi” in 1621. The inspiration comes in two parts, as ”Aurora” is a Roman goddess of dawn, and ”Borea” is an ancient Greek name for the north wind. It means that Aurora Borealis means ”the dawn of the north”.
Why the different colours
The colour of the Northern lights depends on which gas (oxygen or nitrogen) is being excited by the electrons. Nitrogen gives a blue light and oxygen emits either a greenish-yellow light. The blending of these colours can also produce purples, pinks and white. There is also an ultraviolet light that only can be seen by a special camera and not by the human eye.
Where to experience the Northern Lights in the Nordic countries
The further north you travel in the Nordic countries to the Lapland region of Finland, Sweden and Norway, the better is the chances of watching the Northern Lights. Also, Iceland and Greenland are popular destinations which are close to the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees north latitude.
The official Aurora season is from September until April, but like with so many other things that have to do with nature, it’s not something you can say with any certainty. The ideal conditions to see them are when it’s cold and dark outside and the Northern Lights activity are high. The sky has to be clear which it usually is on very cold nights.
Best places to watch the Northern Lights
Norway: Tromsø, The Lofoten Islands, Bodø, Alta, Kirkenes, Narvik
(September - April)
Finland: Finnish Lapland Rovaniemi (September - March)
Sweden: Kiruna, Jukkasjärvi, Jokkmokk, Purjus, Abisko’s Aurora Sky Station (September - March)
Iceland: At all Iceland, but best in the countryside outside Reykjavik (September - April)
Greenland: Kangerlussuaq, Sisimut, Ilulissat, Nuuk (September - April)
When to experience the Northern Lights
Though it is theoretically to see the Midnight Sun year-round, it`s much easier to see in the dark winter months.
The best time to watch the Northern Lights is from September to March, although its appearance is unpredictable.The days around full moon are not conducive to viewing the Northern Lights because it gets to light.
Sometimes, the lights flare up for a brief moment only, at other times a fortunate watcher may enjoy the spectacle for several hours. The best time to catch the Northern Lights is just before midnight, but this remains a matter of luck, and no reliable forecasts are possible to give.