5 Best Locations to See the Amazing Northern Lights
Energy charged particles originating in the magnetosphere and in solar winds are directed by the earth’s magnetic field and collide with atoms high in the atmosphere to produce a light effect. This is the rather dull scientific explanation for the stunning beauty of what is known as the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.
The Northern Lights phenomenon happens all year round but is most easily seen from northern climes on dark winter nights between September and April. Witnessing this natural light spectacular is an unforgettable experience but is one that takes a little planning, because you have to give yourself the best possible chance of seeing it. In Europe, northern Scandinavia is the place to go and, generally speaking, the closer you are to the Arctic Circle, the better your prospects.
Abisko National Park
Reputed to be among the best places on the planet to see the Northern Lights, Abisko National Park is a remote area in Swedish Lapland. From December to March, the prevailing winds keep the skies clear of clouds so that the prospects of seeing the Lights is maximised. A popular viewing point is the Aurora Sky Station that is reached by cable car and takes you to the top of the highest peak in the park (bookings and warm clothing are recommended). The Sky Station offers guided tours and has a café-bar where you can buy warming drinks and food. <strong>Your chances of clear skies are multiplied by the proximity of Torneträsk</strong>, a 70km long lake that helps to create the
‘blue hole of Abisko’, an area of sky that remains clear irrespective of the weather.
The Svalbard Islands are a virtually untouched arctic wilderness located roughly half way between the North Pole and Norway. Dark all day during December and with clear, cloudless skies, Svalbard affords ideal viewing conditions for the Northern Lights. It also a great place for experiencing arctic wildlife like polar bears and for experiencing an arctic wilderness adventure on skis or by snowmobile.
Tromso, ‘Capital of the Arctic’, is the perfect place to observe the Northern Lights while staying close to the comforts that the city has to offer. Located just inside the Arctic Circle, it is a vibrant city that oozes culture and magnificent fjord and mountain scenery. A great way to see the Northern Lights is from the deck of the cruise ships that regularly visit the Tromso area.
Oulanka National Park
Located in northern Finland just south of the Arctic Circle is the rugged and spectacular Oulanka National Park. The vast unspoilt area is a great place to see the Northern Lights. The Park is now a major tourist destination and offers exciting winter experiences like skiing and dog sledding as the chance to see the Lights.
Staying in northern Finland, Luosto is another of the best centres from which to see the Northern Lights. There is plenty to do as you can explore the pristine countryside by snowmobile or dog sled or pay a visit to the amethyst mine. But by far the most spectacular sight is the Northern Lights and, if you stay at the Aurora Chalet, you will be issued with an alarm that will tell you when the Lights are visible.
There can be no guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights – these centres, however, offer the best opportunities. Of course, a well-timed visit to the right area should be enough to give you the experience you are looking for!
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