The northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, occurs in the northern hemisphere. It’s a natural light display in the sky caused by charged particles directed by the earths magnetic field. It creates a curtain of colours flaring across the night sky, usually visible during wintertime.
The Aurora Borealis can have colours from deep green to a redish glow. The further north you get you the higher in the sky you’ll be able to see it.
The northern lights, are predominantly seen in the high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic). To see the northern lights, you’ll need to be in an area with clear, dark skies and a high enough latitude. The best place to see the northern lights is in the Aurora oval, which is an area around the Earth’s geomagnetic poles. The northern lights are visible in the Aurora oval on clear nights between early September and late April. The hours of darkness are however less in the beginning and end of that period. Statistically the Northern Lights appear most frequently between 23:00-01:00, one hour before and after midnight. That means if you are at the right place at the right time, you may see Lady Aurora dancing even in late August.
Local native folklore have added attributes to the northern lights, like in sami tradition you should not wisthle or wave to the northern lights, or stallu (a troll) would come and get you…
See our Arctic Weather page to find weather and forecast information.
We think the absolute best way to improve your chances to actually experience the northern lights is to be mobile through several weather zones, f.i. on guided tours or by your own, in car.
The real secret to see the northern lights
Here are a few tips on how to increase your chances of seeing the northern lights:
- Go to a location with minimal light pollution: The best places to see the northern lights are far away from cities and other sources of light pollution.
- Check the aurora forecast: The strength of the northern lights can vary greatly from night to night, and sometimes hour to hour. You can check the aurora forecast to see if the lights will be active on the night you plan to go out. The website of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provide Kp-Index which gives the level of northern light activity on specific dates and times.
- Head out on a clear night: The northern lights are best seen on clear, dark nights. Avoid nights with a full moon, as the bright moonlight can wash out the lights. Unless that`s how you want to compose your picture of course.
- Dress warmly: Even if you’re going out on a clear night, it can still be very cold in the high-latitude regions where the northern lights are typically visible. Be sure to dress warmly in layers, and wear warm boots, gloves, and a hat.
- Be patient: The northern lights can be elusive, and they may not be visible every time you go out. Be patient and keep trying, as they can be a breathtaking sight when they do appear.
You also can check if there are any guided tour in the region you want to visit, they would likely have better experience and equipment to make you see the northern lights better.