Aurora Borealis, often referred to as the northern lights, is a natural light phenomenon that can sometimes be seen at night from high latitude regions like Scandinavia and Canada. In the southern hemisphere the phenomena is known as the Aurora Australis. The northern lights appear when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the earth’s atmosphere.
When gaseous particles within Earth’s atmosphere collide with these charged particles released by the sun, we see the magnificent light show in the sky. The colors vary depending on the gas involved in the collision. The most common color of the aurora is yellow-green, produced by oxygen molecules about 60 miles above the Earth’s surface. Nitrogen produces blue auroras, and red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen.
The best time to see these dazzling displays is during the fall, winter and early spring and the perfect conditions to see the northern lights are clear nights, with no wind and, of course, an appropriate location. Scientists say that the auroras in the north are identical in shape and color to the auroras at the south pole.
If you have never seen the northern lights, here’s a list of some of the world’s best spots to do it.
Fairbanks is one of the best locations in the world to see the northern lights because it sits on the oval area around the North Pole. The lights are more likely to be seen from late August to early May and around 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., though you can be surprised by the colorful light at any other time of the year. You can find many guided tours that will take you to good places to watch for Aurora Borealis, or you can book lodgings and venture out by yourself to see them.
Tromso is slightly north of the Arctic Circle but inside the auroral ring, just like Fairbanks. The best time to be in Tromso to see the northern lights is January for the annual Northern Lights Festival when local people and tourists celebrate with live music and special outdoor activities. For a unique experience, in Fjosen you can rent a renovated barn with a glass ceiling from where you can observe the spectacle.
The best time to see the purple, green and pink lights over Iceland is from August to April. Before going to Iceland, check the forecast to be sure you have a good chance of seeing them. You can visit Selfoss or Akureyri for the best view of the northern lights. In Akureyri, you can also see the midnight sun during the summer season. During the day you can stay busy with snowshoeing across lava fields, hiking on icy-blue glaciers and trips to see frozen waterfalls and bubbling hot springs. Of course, during the nights you can enjoy watching out for the magnificent light show. Iceland is a magical country that everyone must visit.
Estonia is one of the countries where you can see the best displays of the northern lights. The best time to roam around on a cold night is in April. Although the Estonian climate is renowned for its gray nights, there are many opportunities to see starry nights together with Aurora Borealis.
The Northern lights are visible from anywhere in Alberta, but they’re especially brilliant in Jasper and Wood Buffalo National Parks. These two parks are the world’s largest Dark Sky preserves. You can stop at the Northern Lights Center to learn more about Aurora Borealis and hear legends about the origin of the northern lights.
This magnificent phenomenon is a great gift of nature that leaves everyone speechless. If you have never seen it, you need to do so as soon as possible. The northern lights season starts soon. Good luck!
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