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The Northern Lights – What, When and Where?

What are the Northern Lights?

The northern lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are a natural light display occurring 100km above the planet. The lights are created by the expulsion of electrically charged particles by the sun during large solar explosions. These particles are driven towards the North Pole by the Earth’s magnetic field, where they collide with atoms in the thermosphere. The resulting energy release shows itself as the breathtaking and mysterious northern lights.

The northern lights are different at every appearance; they light up the night sky in striking greens with pink edges and occasionally violet streaks, twirling and dancing in a variety of forms. The lights can appear as three green bands across the sky, as wisps of smoke or sweeping curtains of colour. They might burst into life for a matter of seconds or glow in the sky for several hours.

Where are the Northern Lights?

The lights occur in the northern latitudes. The best places for viewing the northern lights are Iceland, Alaska, Canada, Norway and Lapland. Very occasionally the lights may expand to lower latitudes as a result of a geomagnetic storm – at these times it may be possible to see the lights in Scotland or the northernmost parts of England.

When are the Northern Lights?

The lights are at their most frequent between late autumn and early spring, with optimum times in Lapland being October to November and February to March. The greatest chance of spotting the lights is during the hours of dark, which vary in length depending on location. The weather plays an important part in the appearance of the northern lights and factors such as cloud cover will greatly impair the view.  It is not possible to determine a precise time and place for seeing the show, but the beauty of the lights is in their mystical and unpredictable appearance.

If you would like to experience Mother Nature’s most spectacular show, book a Northern Lights Tour in Lapland with Scandi Travel today. Scandi Travel is an independent Tour Operator providing unique travel experiences and luxury holidays within Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltics.