See the Northern Lights in Scandinavia
Scandinavia is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. NASA predicted that 2012 would have the best conditions in decades to see this natural wonder. Like curtains caught by the wind, the Northern Lights are elusive. However, when they do make an appearance, the entire sky explodes in colour.
Where can I see the Northern Lights?
You can see the Northern Lights all over northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, but coastal areas are generally better than inland areas, as the coast has clear skies more often. The best places are above the Arctic Circle. SAS flies to all the great Northern Lights spots in Scandinavia.
Norway: Alta, Bodø, Kirkenes, Narvik, Tromsø and Longyearbyen
Sweden: Luleå and Kiruna
Finland: Kittilä, Kuusamo and Oulu
When can I see them?
The Aurora Borealis, known as the Northern Lights, happen all year round, but you need dark, clear conditions in order to see them. Generally, the prime seasons for viewing the Northern Lights are early autumn and spring. Most Northern Lights eruptions occur between 6pm and midnight, particularly around 10 to 11pm. However, the Northern Lights are unpredictable and no one knows when the lights will show.
Northern Lights: Theatre of the gods
Before science cleared away the cobwebs of superstition, Norwegians attributed supernatural powers to the Northern Lights. One Nordic Viking described them as a "vast flame of fire…blown up among the rays." Less practical inhabitants of northern Europe likened them to circles of fire sent into the sky by the ocean, while credulous locals claimed that the flickering arcs were reflections of the Valkyries' armour.
Norwegians still claim ownership of the aurora, albeit under the banner of science rather than myth. The phenomenon happens when solar winds mingle with the earth's atmosphere, colliding with atoms and charging them. The earth's magnetic field steers the light particles northward. Solar activity is livening up as the end of an 11-year cycle comes to a massive climax, resulting in a turbo-charged light display more dazzling than has been spotted in over a decade. Because Norway falls in the middle of the aurora zone, those visiting on clear nights have “golden circle” tickets to earth's most dramatic theatre of light. Visions of the borealis are bound to be spectacular, but there are more ways than one to experience them.
It's said that whistling at the aurora attracts spirits who will drag you away, but clapping is enough to keep them at bay. The most spectacular time to practice your aurora-related superstitions is between 27 November and 15 January, when daylight disappears in favour of constant midnight. A palette of red, yellow, green and blue lights will unfold above you, putting you in the front row seats of nature's most ostentatious display.
Nature enthusiasts on flights to Norway choose the Lofoten Islands and Tromsø as premium vantage points, while extreme adventurers prefer their mystic quest to include a snowmobile safari or dog sledding trip. Science fans can be found discovering the borealis under the guidance of Polar Light Center researchers. There is a viewing point for every personality and an opportunity to turn an epic phenomenon into something that is entirely your own.
Photo credits: Bjørn Jørgensen/www.visitnorway.com; Martin Jakobsson/imagebank.sweden.se