The Northern Lights, aurora borealis, occur due to powerful solar explosions that cause large amounts of electrically charged particles to be ejected into space. The particles penetrate the earth's atmosphere and are directed towards the poles where the earth's magnetic fields are strongest. Through this contact, energy is released, and Northern Lights are generated.
Science has clear answers as to why the Northern Lights occur, but the myths and stories are just as exciting. The Vikings thought the Northern Lights were dead virgins dancing and waving. In Scottish mythology, they thought the Northern Lights were happy dancers. Norwegian mythology tells of the Northern Lights as a colourful bridge that connected heaven and earth, the dead and the living. If you go to Alaska, you will encounter the myth that the Northern Lights could conjure up ghosts and spirits.
The Northern Lights occur all year round and around the clock, but it is still considered an autumn and winter phenomenon because it is during this period that it is easiest to see. In northern Norway, and especially along the coast from Lofoten to the North Cape, the conditions are optimal for seeing the Northern Lights.
From the end of September to the end of March on clear afternoons, evenings and nights, the chances are greatest. The Northern Lights are most often seen after 6 pm and especially between 10 pm and 11 pm. In Lofoten, the unique and steep mountains can create openings in the cloud cover. You can therefore experience the Northern Lights even when there is no clear weather. Find a north-facing dark place some distance from cities and towns, so that the light from buildings does not disturb your night vision.
Northern Lights hunting has become a well-known concept in the world's most beautiful archipelago. In this hunt, it can be advantageous to use a local acquaintance, who can show you where it is most likely to experience the Northern Lights in a safe and good way. Should the Northern Lights not show up, you will, in any case, have a magical experience with the special light, the mountain formations and the sea view.
Northern Lights hunting is a great opportunity to make an exciting trip with various activities. This is how you make time go by while you wait in breathless excitement to see the Northern Lights – dress well, be patient and enjoy!
- Feel free to participate in an organized tour with a guide. Guides have experience and knowledge of where it is most likely to see the Northern Lights. Sign up for the trip that lasts the longest.
- Join dog sledging trips under the Northern Lights sky. That gives you a double dose of excitement.
- Use the local tourist office and ask for advice and tips on where the best places are.
- If you have skis, take an evening trip.
- Book a trip with the Hurtigruten over a few days and look for the Northern Lights from the boat's nice lounges, which have great views.
Northern Lights Facts:
● Galileo Galilei gave the Northern Lights the name aurora borealis, Latin and meant ‘the northern red dawn’. This is because at lower latitudes the Northern Lights appear redder.
● In addition to northern Norway, the Northern Lights belt extends over Iceland, southern Greenland, northern Canada and northern Alaska.
● The Northern Lights are also regularly observed in southern Scandinavia, the Baltics, Scotland, and Canadian and American prairies.
● The Northern Lights are rarely seen as far south as Italy and Mexico.
● The Southern Lights are the same phenomenon as the Northern Lights and are seen in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. It can rarely be seen on Sørøya in New Zealand and Tasmania.
● The special and weaker daylight can be observed in Svalbard in mid-winter. It is dark there all day.
● The green colour is caused by the solar winds reacting with oxygen at around 100 km.
● The pink stripe in the Northern Lights is due to the Northern Lights reacting with oxygen at higher altitudes.
● Violet colours are due to reaction with nitrogen, preferably at lower altitudes.
● Petter Dass (1647-1707) mentions loosely and firmly from Northern Norway in his poetry, but not the Northern Lights. Probably the Northern Lights were completely gone in his lifetime.
● Kristian Birkeland initiated the modern Northern Lights research from the Haldde summit in Alta.