Northern Lights in Arctic Norway

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Crossing the Arctic Circle is only the first step on the long journey north. The North Cape, Europe’s northernmost point, remains a goal for many travelers to Arctic Norway.

291214_northern-lights-over-tromsoe-northern-norwaySeeing the northern lights, or the aurora borealis, as they are also known, is a jaw-dropping moment, and Arctic Norway is one of the best places on Earth to observe this unique, striking natural phenomenon.

The lights are at their most frequent in late autumn and winter/early spring, between the autumn and spring equinox, although the best time to travel is from December to March. From December onwards, the weather dries up, and there is normally plenty of snow, a great time to experience the polar nights with atmospheric evenings and very short days. In February and March the days lengthen, meaning travelers see more of the snow-clad landscapes during daytime, while the evenings still offer maximum chances to spot the northern lights.

The driest weather, giving clear skies, is found inland, statistically providing the best chances, but with strong eastern winds, the coast can be clearer than inland areas. The full moon and places with a lot of light (eg cities) should be avoided as they make the experience considerably paler.

It is the sun that lies behind the formation of the aurora borealis. During large solar explosions and flares, huge quantities of particles are thrown out of the sun and into deep space. When these particles meet the Earth’s magnetic shield, they are led towards a circle around the magnetic North Pole, where they interact with the upper layers of the atmosphere. The energy which is then released is the northern lights. All this happen approximatelty 100 kilometres above our heads.

Photo: Arctic Holidays
Photo: Arctic Holidays

The northern lights have given rise to many legends. Symbols linked to the northern lights are found on the Sami shamanistic drum. The phenomenon has several different names in Sami. It is, for instance, known as Guovssahas, which means “the light which can be heard”. And during the Viking Age, the northern lights were said to be the armour of the Valkyrie warrior virgins, shedding a strange flickering light.

Excursions

The video above shows multicolored curtains of light filling the skies over northern Norway.. Filmmakers Claus and Anneliese Possberg used about 600 frames to create the video. (Music by Justin Durban, www.justindurban.com)

Feature image on top: V. Belov – Shutterstock

Other articles on Northern lights:
Northern Lights
Seasons, Weather and Climate in Northern Norway
The World’s Most illuminating Experiences