5 Places to Discover the Magical Northern Lights
The ultimate celestial bucket list for travellers
We’ve come a long way thanks to modernization. However, no matter how far we’ve come, we still look up at the same sky in awe of the stars. This celestial marvel unites us. We’re always looking up, wondering if the sky really is the limit.
If you’re fascinated by the celestial skies and the mysteries they hold, you’ll likely enjoy the magical phenomenon known as Aurora Borealis, also referred to as Northern Lights in some areas. Many ardent travellers make it a point to witness this spectacular phenomenon, and it ranks high on many’s lifetime travel bucket lists.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the Aurora Borealis is not limited to Iceland or Greenland. These mystical lights can actually be seen from other locations around the world. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
Between November and February is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Norway. Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago located between Norway and the North Pole, is the ideal location to witness this multicoloured phenomenon because it is completely dark from November to February.
When venturing into the darkness, always follow an experienced guide because this is polar bear territory. To ensure your safety, always be aware of your surroundings and travel in groups. Aside from Svalbard, another popular tourist destination is Tromsø. Tromsø is a popular starting point for first-time northern-light hunters because the lights can sometimes be seen from the town itself.
Canada has more to offer than just maple syrup. Canada’s Northwest Territories are in the Aurora Borealis zone. The best time for avid travellers to see the lights is in the fall or winter, when most hours are dark and the night sky is often clear.
Aside from the Northwest Territories, the Northern Lights can be seen in other parts of Canada, including Banff and Jasper (also known as the Canadian Rockies), Whitehorse (also known as the Aurora Capital), and Churchill.
Some of these areas also provide lodging for visitors, allowing them to view the lights from a warm and cosy interior. You’ll also be able to find chalets with large windows built in for a greater viewing pleasure.
Scots living in the same latitude as some parts of Norway are in luck because they are more likely to see these dancing colours. Northern Scotland is a hotspot for Aurora Borealis because it shares latitude with parts of Norway.
The best places to see these dancing colours are on the islands of Shetland, Harris, Orkney, and Lewis. Frequent travellers advise postponing your Northern Lights adventures during the full moon period because the night skies will be bright.
Check the weather forecast before embarking on your Northern Lights adventure, a handy tip shared by frequent travellers. Clear skies and calm nights would be the ideal weather. This will increase your chances to catch the elusive lights.
HOW TO CAPTURE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
These beautiful pictures that you see are captured by professional photographers but here are some tips to try if you’re attempting to capture the phenomenon with your mobile phone:
- Adjust aperture to the widest.
- Set shutter speed between 1 to 15 seconds.
- Carry a tripod with you.
The Swedish laplands, particularly Abisko National Park, is ideal for viewing the Northern Lights. According to the Swedish Laplands’ website, staying at least three days in Abisko increases your chances of seeing the oscillating colourful lights by 88 percent.
The website also states that the best time to see these lights is between September and March, from 9.00 pm to 2.00 am. Other factors, such as cloudy skies, may also have an impact on the viewing experience.
If you’re drawn to the images of Northern lights and snowy backgrounds that circulate on the Internet, December and January may be the best months to visit because the long nights add to the beauty and grace of the experience.
The best time to see the Northern Lights in Finland is between September and March, when solar activity is at its peak. If you’re going to Finland specifically to see the Northern Lights, try to avoid going between December and January. This is because Finland is frequently snowy during this time of year, which can lead to cloudy skies and, as a result, lower clarity for aurora displays. Some of the places you can visit for Aurora Borealis viewing in Finland are Rovaniemi and Kemi.
If you’re looking for the best time to go light hunting, you should be in the designated area between 10.00 pm and 2.00 am. The dark and clear sky during this time period is ideal for viewing the Aurora Borealis.
Source: Forbes, Swedish Laplands (European Union Regional Development Fund), Keep Exploring Canada, Cottages & Castles, Visit Finland