Nature’s light show: Where, when and how to catch the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that can only be seen only in selected countries and regions, such as Alaska or Norway. These Lights are also called aurora borealis. While there are many pictures of this phenomenon available for free online, as well as many videos, none of them can make it justice. What’s more, everyone will tell you go see them in person if you really want to see them.
To better enjoy this beautiful display of lights, you must plan your trip during the colder months because they can only be seen in the dark. The northern regions get little darkness in the warmer months of the year, so you’ll be wasting your time and money by traveling in summer. Autumn and spring, on the other hand, are much better choices if the cold winter scares you.
What’s more, is that winter and spring generally have clearer skies than autumn. If the sky is covered in clouds, there goes your chance at seeing the beautiful display. According to aurora forecasters, traveling between December and April significantly increase your chances of seeing it. Planning your trip around the new moon will prove to be the best time frame for the light show as the sky will be at its darkest.
Since any type of light ruins the experience, you must also go as far from the city as possible. The experts say that the peak of the show is between 10 pm and 2 am, local time. In the dead of the night it gets really cold, so wearing appropriate clothing is a must. You’ll be sending at least 30 minutes out in the cold, as this is for how long an activity lasts. The active periods take place about every 2 hours, sometimes more often.
Europeans usually go to Norway, Sweden, and Finland to see the Northern Lights. Russia and Island are other countries where the Lights can be seen, but the former lacks a touristic infrastructure for this purpose and the regions are hard to reach. The later on the other hand has a very unfriendly climate that makes the phenomenon hard to see.
Those living on the American continent can also see the aurora without flying over the ocean. Alaska and Canada are the most obvious choices. Far eastern Canada though, must be avoided for similar reasons as Iceland. Going to the Hudson Bay area will also mean you could get to also see some polar bears, as they made the region famous.
All in all, as long as you’re near the Arctic Circle you have the chance to see the aurora. This phenomena also happens at the South Pole where it is called aurora australis, or Southern Lights. It is quite difficult to travel to that region to see them, but at times residents of New Zealand and Tasmania have the chance to see them.
The lights form thanks to the solar storms known as coronal mass ejections. The bigger these storms are, the wider the areas where the lights can be seen, but nobody can precisely predict when or if these will happen.