A Brief Guide to Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis What They Are and the Best Places to Enjoy Them

Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) Show
Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) Show over a cottage

Aurora borealis or Northern Lights is a natural electrical phenomenon giving bright reddish or greenish streaks of light over a vast expanse of the night sky. These are visible near the North Pole. The Aurora appears as bright dancing lights and caused by the collisions between electrically charged particles that emanate from the Solar winds.

When the charged particles enter the earth’s atmosphere they are affected by the magnetic force and the energy released by them are converted into light particles called photons.  When these photons interact with various gases in the atmosphere, different colors are produced in different patterns.  These are called Aurora Borealis when you see these bright patterns of light near the North Pole.

 The Auroral displays can be seen in many colors although mostly they are pink, green or reddish colors.  You can also see shapes of faint red, bright yellow, blue and violet colors also.  They appear in different patterns like large patches, or have the appearance of scattered clouds, streams of light arc, or a  rippling curtain or appear like a shooting ray that lighten up the night sky.

The lines of the Aurora Borealis generally extend to about 80 kilometers to as high as 640 kilometers above the surface of the earth.

Aurora Borealis cannot be seen everywhere and there are some places on the earth where you can enjoy the visual delight offered by this unique natural phenomena.  Aurora can be best viewed in winter months with cold dark nights.  The Aurora belt lies within the 66 to 69 degrees latitude from the north and these are the places that have become the best places for Aurora Borealis.  To improve the visibility of the Aurora Borealis you have to go to remote countrysides to escape from the Light pollution of city lights.

Aurora Borealis cannot be expected every night even at places that are known as high-frequency locations for the Aurora.  These appear at any time and these northern lights mesmerize the viewer’s mind with bright dancing lights and fill their minds with unforgettable memories for a long time to come. 

Watching Northern Lights must be on every Traveller‘s Bucket List

Some of the best places to see Aurora around the world are as follows:

1. Northern Canada

Northern Lights over Downtown Whitehorse
Northern Lights over Downtown Whitehorse, Canada

Northern Canada is the best hotspot for viewing Aurora Borealis as it has much remote pristine wilderness which is the most ideal spots for enjoying Aurora Borealis in all its Glory.  The northern region of Canada including Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut are some of the best places to enjoy the Aurora Borealis. The best time to view Aurora Borealis in Northern Canada extends from late August to mid-April of the year.

In most places of Northern Canada, you can go for Aurora by self camping, Camper vans or you can engage a cozy air BnB cabin at the hotspots of Aurora Borealis.  Apart from this, you can also use one day and four-day local tours available from Yukon to go for aurora watching.  If you are visiting the Aurora Borealis parts from British Columbia you can get in the tours that are departing from the city of Vancouver.

2. Iceland

Iceland is one of the best places for viewing Aurora Borealis.  With its vast wildness and remote areas away from city lights, it offers the best viewing area for Aurora Borealis all through the year.  Iceland dotted with volcanic landscapes geothermal hot springs and majestic waterfalls will add more to your vacation and when you go for Aurora Borealis viewing then it will give a complete and unforgettable vacation of your lifetime.

 There are many places in Iceland where the Aurora can be viewed from the Comforts of thermal hot springs.  You can also enjoy the Aurora from your private campervan situated in remote areas of the island where the sky is not polluted by the city lights.

Aurora can be viewed from the whole of Iceland, but some of the special places for enjoying the Aurora include the Seltjarnarnes in Reykjavik, Látrabjarg/Westfjords, Vik, Eldborgahraun, Djúpavík, etc.  The best time to enjoy the Aurora at these places starts from early September and extends to the end of April.  There are many facilities especially available for Aurora viewers like tent camping, campervans, group tours, and Air BnB cabins

If you want to stay in Reykjavik and have a view of the Aurora you can have the full view of the night sky from the comforts of the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik. There are many ways of enjoying Aurora Borealis in the Drake Jaivik region as there are many programs that are combined with other activities like cruises, jeep tours to ice cave hunting and Glacier walks.

3. Norway

Aurora borealis. Lofoten islands, Norway
Aurora borealis. Lofoten islands, Norway

Norway happens t be yet another hotspot for Aurora Borealis as it has many remote areas specially meant for Aurora Borealis viewing. When you are in Norway you can come for Aurora spotting with many other live activities apart from the wonderful chasing of Aurora Borealis. 

Some of the popular Aurora hotspots in Norway are Svalbard, The Lofoten Islands, Tromso, Harstad, Bodo, Alta, Andoya, and Lakselv. The best time to go for Aurora watching starts from October and extends up to March.

There are many facilities available for Aurora watching in Norway including log cabins, camping, and caravanning. You can also go in specially conducted tours for Aurora viewing.

4. Finland

Northern lights in Finland
Northern lights in Finland

it is a popular Aurora hot spot due to its location and you can have the Grand view of Aurora in all its glory from September to March.  In the cold climate of Finland, you can view and enjoy Aurora in a purpose-built glass Igloo right from the comfort of your warm place of stay.

 In Finland Aurora is visible everywhere but you must be away from city lights.  In the locations like Kakslauttanen, Anathema there are glass igloos specially built for Aurora viewing.  Though the Aurora can be enjoyed from here everywhere you have to escape the city lights and among the other places the northern border areas of Abisko, Tärendö, Jukkasjärvi, and Farnebofjarden National Park are some of the hotspots for the Aurora.

5. Greenland

Northern lights in Greenland
Northern lights in Greenland

As a major portion of Greenland lies between the Arctic Circle it is one of the best Aurora zones of the world.  With few tourists and more remote areas, you will be all by yourself with the Aurora and hence those who want to enjoy the grandeur of the Aurora Borealis can visit Greenland.  Southern Greenland is more ideal especially Ilulissat or Nuuk are the world-famous aurora spotting locations. Mid-August to late April is the best time to view Aurora Borealis in Greenland

Thus, these are some of the best Aurora Borealis using locations around the world and if you want to enjoy the Grand phenomena after nature you have to select the one that it gives you the best view of the Aurora to enjoy the colorful phenomena of nature in all its Glory.

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Abdullah Hussain is a traveller. Dubai born, he’s already been to more than 40 countries. Loves to travel, highly energetic and fond of natural beauty and cultural diversity. He is also a webmaster and expert in creating websites from scratch. As a travel junkie, he has a lot of experience and stories to share with others and chose tfortraveller to share his journeys.

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