Every winter, hundreds of people travel to the northernmost regions of the earth to witness the breathtaking phenomenon known as the Northern Lights. It takes some effort to see the glittering show, and many people try multiple times to get a glimpse.
Sadly, they are not guaranteed and it is nearly hard to organize a trip around them. Forecasts are only available up to about an hour in advance since they rely so largely on solar activity. Not even the most accurate projections are available all the time.
Here’s where we get involved! While there are no guarantees, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of seeing astronomical phenomena. We’ve included some advice on how to improve your chances as well as what to do if you do happen to spot them in this article.
Now let’s get going.
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Northern Lights what are they?
One of the most breathtaking natural occurrences on Earth is the Northern Lights, which dance across the night sky. Known by many names as Aurora Borealis, this breathtaking show of light is brought on by a coronal mass ejection, or outflow of gas from the sun. Different light frequencies are produced when the colliding particles meet the Earth’s magnetic field.
Light comes in three primary colors: green, purple, and red. The depth at which the CME enters the magnetic field determines the color you perceive. Most of the time, purple is the first color you see, and the odds are good that you can see all three colors if you ever see red.
Why then are they occurring more frequently in the Arctic Circle region? This has to do only with the tilt and form of the earth’s magnetic field. Additionally, the far north experiences substantially lower winter temperatures, which means that sunlight doesn’t interfere with the lights.
Best Time in the Year for Seeing the Northern Lights?
During the winter! Depending on your location, you can see them year-round, but the winter months have the least amount of solar interference. Because of the Polar Night, you can see them throughout the “day” if you’re traveling somewhere above the Arctic Circle in the winter. This occurs during the month-long darkness that envelops the area around the winter solstice.
Depending on where you live, the aurora season might last from late August until early March. November through February is the greatest time of year. You’ll also discover that these months are when trips are most effective. Because there is simply too much daylight in the summer, you won’t be able to see them if you are in the Arctic Circle.
Where Do the Northern Lights Usually Appear?
There’s a widespread misperception that your chances improve the further north you travel; nevertheless, the truth is more nuanced. The closer you are to the Arctic Circle, the better, in actuality. Most people would assume that this meant heading north, but as you approach the North Pole, bad weather tends to block the sky, so your odds of success drop once more.
The earth’s natural tilt affects where the CME strikes the planet’s magnetic field, which is what causes the lights, as was previously mentioned. These ejections are stronger in this area because the Arctic Circle naturally tilts in that direction. The circle passes through a large portion of Alaska, Canada, and Northern Europe, with the peak zone located slightly further south on the Atlantic Ocean.
Photographing the Northern Lights
The most crucial thing to remember is to pack a decent camera. Taking pictures of the aurora with a Smartphone was once impossible, and this is still the case for the most part.
Using a DSLR for the first time might be very scary. Fortunately, the internet has a wealth of excellent materials available to assist you. Before your trip, think about giving night photography a try at home.
Technically speaking, set the focus to infinity the day before, choose a wide aperture (f2.8 is ideal, but f4 is possible if your lens is restricted), and increase the ISO as much as you can. Remember that certain cameras lose quality at high ISOs, so make sure this is the case before using them. You should also expose yourself for as long as possible; however, the optimal duration will depend on how quickly the aurora is moving.
Best Places to Witness Northern Lights in Norway
There are actually a few excellent places to see the lights because the northern parts of Norway are situated inside the Arctic Circle. Since the majority of the nation’s cities are located in the south, light pollution is also unlikely to be an issue for you. To see the lights in Norway, head north on your travels.
One of the most well-liked winter destinations in Norway for those who seek auroras is Tromsø. Because it lies above the Arctic Circle, you can take advantage of the picturesque blue light hours at the end of winter. Enjoy the splendor of thoughtfully chosen landscapes as you wander gently over well-kept paths.
Your odds improve as you get further north. Since Tromsø is the biggest city in the Arctic Circle, we adore it. Much though there are much greater views from the nearby hills, the population is still modest enough to provide some fantastic evening sights of the lights.
Perhaps the greatest place on Earth to see the Northern Lights is Svalbard. The polar night lasts a little longer here because it’s deep in the Arctic Circle. You can watch the lights at any time throughout this time, but noon shows are the greatest. You will likely reside in Longyearbyen, the only sizable community on Svalbard that is still relatively light pollution-free.
The Northern Lights aren’t as visible here as they are in Tromsø because it is closer to the North Pole. Having said that, you have a good chance of seeing one of the less spectacular displays because they are a common sight during the winter.
Bodø is the greatest site in Norway to see the Northern Lights if you are in the southern part of the nation. The greatest spot in Bodø to watch the Northern Lights is Mount Rønvik, which is a few kilometers from the city center.
Apart from the mountains, the pier in Bodø offers stunning views of the Northern Lights. Other attractions in the area include numerous resorts, rooftop bars, and even a guided northern light bus excursion. For aspiring photographers hoping to capture breathtaking images of the Northern Lights, Bodø is also an ideal location.
Lyngenfjord is not just one of the driest locations in the nation but also one of the greatest spots to watch the Northern Lights in Norway. Lyngenfjord, which lies between the well-known cities of Tromsø and Alta, is renowned for its bright night skies, which make it an ideal location to view the northern lights against the backdrop of the majestic mountains.
One interesting note about this location is that Lyngenfjord is where most pictures of the Northern Lights are captured. The beauty of the occurrence here is further enhanced by the dry weather. You may easily see the Northern Lights by traveling to Tromsø or other northern Norwegian cities, and while there, you can stay at one of the many resorts in Lyngenfjord.
One of Norway’s best locations to watch the Northern Lights is the Lofoten Islands, which are situated on the azure waters of the Norwegian Sea. The Northern Lights are most vibrant and potent in this location. If you are fortunate enough, you might even get an opportunity to witness the renowned violent storms known as the Northern Lights on an uncommon day, which is amazing.
The Lofoten Islands are surrounded by stunning mountain ranges, narrow fjords, the sea, and long beaches. Seeing the Northern Lights there is an incredible experience, with unreal views. Go to beaches and coastal locations such as Flakstadøy and Vestvågøy to take pictures of this phenomenon with your camera.
The Vesterålen archipelago, situated north of Lofoten Island, is another excellent location in Norway to see the Northern Lights. Vesterålen, well-known for its vibrant arts, culture, and fishing sector, is also home to breathtaking views of the Northern Lights. This is the place where you may enjoy the Northern Lights at night and join a unique whale tour during the day to see humpback, killer, and sperm whales.
Vesterålen offers whale cruises as well as wildlife safaris, dog sledding, skiing, seal and bird excursions, and more. Alternatively, to get the greatest views and take pictures of this unique natural phenomenon, consider going on a unique northern light safari.
The city of Varanger, which is situated in the center of the Northern Lights Oval, provides some breathtaking views of the Northern Lights on clear nights. Varanger is the finest site to go birdwatching because it is situated on the Arctic Coast, above the tundra and taiga region. Even in the winter, you can see unusual species there.
Discover the unique combination of the arctic shoreline and landscape while the Northern Lights beam down on you. You can enjoy the Northern Lights on foot, by riding snowmobiles, or even by taking a boat excursion.
Narvik is renowned for its extraordinarily clear skies and weather, making it one of the greatest sites in Norway to see the Northern Lights. Surrounded by fjords and mountains on every side, the summit of Narvikfjellet is one of the greatest places to search for unspoiled views of the Northern Lights in Narvik.
You will undoubtedly witness a more spectacular and enchanting display of the Aurora Borealis when the gorgeous mountains serve as the background. You can also partake in daytime activities while visiting Narvik, such as ice fishing, skiing, tobogganing, and an Arctic fjord cruise.
Alta, also referred to as “the town of the Northern Lights,” is one of Norway’s top locations to view the Northern Lights. This seaside village in Norway, nestled between breathtaking mountains on all sides, is also the site of the world’s first Northern Light Observatory. One advantage of viewing the Northern Lights in Alta as opposed to other locations is that you won’t have to endure the bitter cold.
Additionally to observing the Northern lights from several locations in this town, you can also examine the historic rock carvings at the Alta Museum, which has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Northern Lights Church, where you can take in the effects of the lights’ falling beams, is another attraction here.
Helgeland, which is also regarded as one of the greatest places in Norway for sea kayaking all year round, will come up in your search for the best place to see the Northern Lights. You may explore the breathtaking Northern Lights on the water in Helgeland.
Helgeland is not only a hotspot for sea kayaking but also one of Norway’s southernmost points and the warmest area to see the Northern Lights. The sightseeing opportunity is further enhanced by the mountain peaks, islands, bays, and reefs.
What Do You Need To Know
We must emphasize again that nothing is certain. It’s important to be ready for anything. Because of this, we advise you to pick a place you have always wanted to go. Treat the aurora borealis as a joyful extra that you might happen to see at some point—all of the locations listed above have other compelling reasons to visit.
If you intend to stay in any of the aforementioned locations, be careful to choose a relatively rural location. Light pollution is a problem in larger cities, making visibility extremely poor. Locations such as Lerwick, Murmansk, and Reykjavík will reduce your chances.
How to Dress Properly
Comfortable! You will most likely be standing outside in the cold for a while because the lights can stay on for hours at a time. Many people don’t realize how chilly the Arctic Circle may get at times. This is not winter in London, New York, or any other place. It’s quite cold outside.
Layering is key, so think beyond a large coat, hat, and gloves. The superiority of thin layers over larger layers has been demonstrated by science.
The Aurora Borealis is one of the most amazing sights in the world and a top attraction on many people’s bucket lists. What are you waiting for if you want to see the northern lights this year?
Check out my comprehensive guide and make proper travel plans for the next getaway.
When is the best time to view Norway’s Northern Lights?
October through March, when Norway enjoys its winter season, is the greatest time to see the Northern Lights. It is necessary to witness this phenomenon during these months because there are more hours of darkness here.
Do the Norwegian fjords allow you to glimpse the Northern Lights?
The Norwegian Fjords indeed offer views of the Northern Lights. However, only if you are in Norway and not one of the neighboring countries is this feasible.
How frequently can one see the northern lights in Tromso?
Not only is Tromso the capital of the Arctic but it’s also regarded as the best spot to watch the Northern Lights. Although Tromso experiences nearly nightly sightings of the northern lights from September to April, the duration of this phenomenon is somewhat shorter than in other cities.