Northern lights are something most of the people want to see at some point or have on their bucket list. Truth is that they are not so hard to spot with a little bit of luck and knowledge about them. So here is your Northern lights guide. Everything you wanted to know about northern lights but was too afraid to ask.
Amazing lights and where to find them
To know where to find Northern lights is key to understand what are they. Here is my short non-scientific version: northern lights are the solar wind that is reflected from poles. The green lights are caused by wind collusion into our atmosphere. Both northern and southern. Which means that if you want to see northern lights you need to be closer to the pole.
But that also means that you will be more likely to see northern lights since there is generally more soil to stand on in the north. In the south, you can try your luck with southern lights in New Zealand.
How to spot Aurora?
Every northern lights guide should have at least quick spotting tips. Here it is:
- Winter time is essential to spot northern lights. Mostly because of extended dark hours.
- Escape light pollution. That is why the best places are just somewhere in the middle of nature because city lights might block the view.
- Know the time! Everybody says that it is a matter of luck. Truth is, it is not. Scientist already counted when and where the northern lights will be. There are apps for it or websites. So check your time first.
Best places to see northern lights
Due to its location, Alaska is within the zone where you can easily spot Northern lights. Some say that it is as often here as 270 per year. Which means that the only thing that you need to do is stay away from the cities, and you should be able to see it.
Northern lights guide tip: Go in the winter, Alaska is very much on the north, so seeing Northern lights during summer when there might not be a dark or maybe just for a short time won’t pay off. Besides that, Alaska has so much more to offer than just lights.
When it comes to Finland, it can get very tricky. When the solar wind is strong, you might be able to see Northern lights all over Finland, including in Helsinki, that are usually too south. Northern, you go, more often you are likely to see them. Check out some location in Lapland, where people generally enjoy winter wonderland and in the night they can stare to green lights that are running all around the sky. Some tours are offering to watch them while dog sledding or snowmobiling.
Iceland should be in every northern lights itinerary. The country is north enough to see the lights on a daily basis. But the main season starts in late August and last till early April. Iceland is very convenient for watching Aurora especially because there is only one big city and even in Reykjavik it usually isn’t an issue to spot them since the lights still aren’t too bright.
Northern lights guide tip + interesting fact about Iceland: Visit Iceland for Northern lights between 8th of October and 10th of December. During these days you will have a chance to see them dancing around Piece tower that is litten up here in honor of John Lennon.
More importantly: North Canada. These spots are especially for adventurers seeking wilderness and nature. Yukon is one of the most popular places.
Norway is in this way sort of the same as Finland. If you go north, to the Norway part of Lapland, you will have a great chance to watch this natural wonder in between of Norwegian fjords. To increases your chances, you can buy here northern lights tours, sometimes even a pass for 7 days. However, it is completely normal to see them without a tour.
This Danish territory is full of ice and from September till April, you can spot Aurora here as well. Since Greenland doesn’t have big cities, it should be easier to run away from light pollution. This spot should be definitely on your northern lights guide.
Again, the north part of Sweden, preferably above Stockholm around areas of Lapland. Those are above the town called Umea, where you can even fly. Since this area is full of beautiful national parks and wilderness, it shouldn’t be too hard to find what to do here even during the day.
Russia does have places where you can see the Aurora Borealis, however, the weather can be rather hostile here. The ideal time here is also during the winter, but you will need to find them in towns north from Moscow or even in the Siberian tundra. Where the weather is truly hostile.
Not so often but they are there
Sometimes you can hear about northern lights being over Denmark or Northern Ireland. These are really rare and with terrible visibility. By terrible I mean you might see a blur green light over the sky, but not really dancing light all over your head. Truth is that the most southern place where they were seen is New Orleans, so you might have a good chance even in Denmark, but overall, it is still not north enough to see a big show.
Northern lights guide through colors and culture
Even though most of the times Aurora Borealis is bright green, sometimes some other colors popped out. This green-yellowish color is produced by oxygen molecules. Sometimes northern lights change color to blue or purple, which is caused by nitrogen in the atmosphere. The rarest color is red. Red aurora is usually seen more south. It indicates oxygen molecules that are in higher altitude – say 200 miles above the atmosphere.
These color changes didn’t go unnoticed by different cultures and brought interesting myth to the world. On the south, where the northern lights are mostly red, people believed that a war is coming. However, people on New Zealand surprisingly shared they believe with people from northern Europe. They believed that Aurora is reflecting lights from their torches.
Other native groups in America used to believe that the lights are reflecting souls of great huntsmen and fishermen or the animals that they hunt.
Like it? Pin it!