What are the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights or as we call them Aurora Borealis is one of the most spectacularly beautiful natural phenomenon that happens on the planet Earth. Some even call it Mother Earth’s dance. This dance of bright lights can be seen above the magnetic Polar Regions in the northern and southern hemispheres. The one in the south is called Southern Lights or Aurora Australis.
Why do they occur?
These lights appear in many different forms. It can be either patches or scattered billows of light, or streamers and arcs; or it can even be shooting rays that light up the night sky. But what causes such a phenomenon to occur?
Scientists found out that these bright dancing lights are in fact electrically charged particles that are emitted from the sun during a solar flare. On penetrating the Earth’s magnetic shield they collide with the atoms and molecules in our atmosphere and as a result light energy is emitted. The different colors are due to the variations of gases colliding with each other.
So where can I see them from?
Even though you know all this, seeing them with your own eyes is a different experience altogether. We all want to see this amazing magic of Mother Nature. But we cannot see it from our backyard now can we? So where can we see them from? If you have asked yourself that question then you are at the right place. In this article we will look at three of the best places on Earth where you can see the Northern Lights form.
As I said earlier these lights can be seen above the magnetic Polar Regions of the Earth. This means above the Arctic Circle, i.e. the 60°N-70°N latitude region (since we are talking about the Northern Lights). This means you can see it from the Northwestern parts of Canada and Alaska in North America and the northern coast of Norway along with over the coastal regions north of Siberia and the southern tip of Greenland and Iceland in Europe. In this article we are going to look at three countries namely Alaska, Norway and Russia. This area is called the Aurora Zone.
Researchers discovered that auroral activities like the Aurora Borealis and Australis are cyclic in nature, their peak periods cycling at an interval of roughly 11 years. The last peak period was in 2013, which puts the next at around 2024. Moreover, clear winter nights are the best timings to see these extravagant displays of dancing lights. Local midnight is your best bet to look up at the sky. Keep in mind that winter here means winter in the northern hemisphere, i.e. end of September to end of March.
Technically Alaska is a state of the USA. The northern parts of the 49th state like Fairbanks and Nome are the best places to visit if you want to view Aurora Borealis. The city of Fairbanks is just 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. You can easily reach there by flight and find easy accommodations. There are a few sighting areas like the Chena Lake or the Murphy Dome.
Nome is a remote rural town in western Alaska. If you visit this small town, you’ll know what it means to live in rural Alaska. This town is the second best place in Alaska for aurora viewing.
Other than these you can also catch a pretty good aurora show from Alaska’s largest city Anchorage. The Denali National Park between Anchorage and Fairbanks is also a great spot for viewing the Northern Lights. You can also catch a Northern Lights cruise to the scenic Juneau port.
In Norway, Tromsø is the best place to view these awesome lights. This is because this city is located right in the middle of the Aurora Zone. Moreover due to its geographical location the warm air from the Gulf Stream makes the environment ideal for viewing the Aurora Borealis.
You can also find a great viewing of the Northern Lights form the town of Alta, also known as “The town of the Northern Lights.” This small fjord town is located 375 km north of the Arctic Circle. Other than this you can also view the lights from Lyngenfjord, located between Tromsø& Alta; also the Lofoten Islands are also a great place to see them.
Since the Arctic Circle engulfs majority of Russia, this country is a great place to visit to see the Northern Lights. You can view them from Karelia to Chukotka. The Murmansk region on the Kola Peninsula is the best place in Russia for observing these lights.
You can also visit the small town of Kirovsk on the same peninsula. You can also view them in the skies overlooking Lake Onega in Petrozavodsk. Naryan-Mar is another great place to see these spectacular light dances.
So now that you know where and when to visit, pack your bags and book your flights for a weekend getaway with Mother Earth’s dance above you to take you to the land of fantasies.
Yogi and Suchna believe in taking the road less travelled and stumbling upon some hidden gems along the way! For over a decade, they’ve mapped their way across various continents, sniffed out unusual routes, discovered new flavours’ and stayed at quirky hostels. TheVillaEscape is their expression of soul travel. To check Northern Lights Iceland you can catch up with them at TheVillaEscape.