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The How, What, When, Where And Why Of Seeing The Aurora Borealis, AKA Northern Lights - Reprise | Quill & Pad

The How, What, When, Where And Why Of Seeing The Aurora Borealis, AKA Northern Lights – Reprise | Quill & Pad

My spouse Brigitte and I had since quite a while ago held a wish to see Aurora Borealis (aurora borealis), yet had never truly thought to make that fantasy come valid. It was only something on the “nice to do” instead of the “to do” list.

Aurora borealis shot in Jackson, Wyoming on September 9, 2015

But we fortunately risked upon “seeing” the aurora borealis while visiting Jackson Hole, Wyoming a year ago (see Give Me Five: Reasons To Visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming ), and the fervor of that prompted a long time of research.

And that exploration drove all the more as of late to putting in a couple of days in the Arctic Circle in the north of Sweden.

Here is the thing that I’ve found out about Aurora Borealis so far.

Why see the aurora borealis?

We should get going with the simple inquiry first: why? We needed to see Aurora Borealis we since it is definitely quite possibly the most, if not THE most, fabulous occasions in nature. And in the event that you don’t unequivocally accept that, don’t trouble as you are probably going to be frustrated in the exertion involved.

But be cautioned, except if you end up living in a high-scope area or are simply plan fortunate, your most obvious opportunity with regards to seeing the aurora borealis is to venture out to some place close or in a perfect world over the Arctic Circle when there are extensive stretches of darkness.

Which implies winter in or close to the Arctic Circle, so that is probably going to be both freezing and very distant. And then there is no assurance that the grand scene will actually perform when you are there. I would propose that needing to take photos and/or video adds significantly to the motivation.

So while noting “why?” for yourself, do attempt to ensure that your inspiration is sufficiently able to overcome what is probably going to include impressive difficulty (like standing outside in winter in the Arctic Circle); time (the more you are there the more possibility you have of seeing something); cost; and perhaps disappointment.

Aurora borealis captured in Germany; note how brilliant the landscape searches for a dull evening (photograph graciousness Wikipedia)

And be cautioned that the inconceivable photographs you see of Aurora Borealis are probably going to be far superior to you will find in all actuality. This is on the grounds that photographs are taken at moderate shade velocities to expand the measure of light hitting the sensor.

These two photographs started a similar way: if the eye recognizes any trace of shading (as in the left picture), at that point take a long openness photograph, add a little Photoshop – and presto, a shining aurora

This is conspicuous by the way that you can normally see the landscape unmistakably like it is early night or solid twilight despite the fact that, in actuality, the night is probably going to have been totally completely dark where the photograph was taken.

What are the northern lights?

First, I should clarify that the southern half of the globe has its own similarly noteworthy solar-controlled light party brought the aurora australis over the South Pole.

Auroras are noticeable in both the north and south poles (picture politeness Karl Magnus Laundal and Nature)

But however distant as the Arctic Circle may be from North America and Europe, it’s a simple commute compared to getting to Antarctica. And while especially lively solar upheavals can show themselves as far north (from the South Pole) as southern Australia, it’s by and large simpler to see auroras in the northern hemisphere.

But what precisely makes these serious lights?

Well, fundamentally they are the aftereffect of two attractive fields: that of the earth and that of the sun.

When a circle of attractive field on the sun snaps it causes a solar flare

Let’s take a gander at the sun first (however not literally).

Unlike the earth, the sun isn’t strong. It is a major chunk of hot gas (principally 70% hydrogen and 28 percent helium) with a monster atomic combination reactor at its center. Incredible attractive fields are created and these wrap and weave in and around the sun like goliath elastic bands.

And in some cases these gigantic curved bands of attractive fields snap, delivering a downpour of exceptionally charged particles. And if this ends up happening on the sun confronting the earth, that enormous stream of charged particles will travel 150 million kilometers toward earth, where most will be redirected by our planet’s own attractive field.

How a solar flare structures (photograph civility

The arrival of this energy causes sun spots , which are zones on the sun that are hazier on the grounds that they are cooler because of the energy lost in the abrupt arrival of charged particles.

The earth’s attractive field, which is made by our planet’s liquid iron center, is moderately steady compared to than of our sun; in any case, it figures out how to flip north and south in a geomagnetic inversion at regular intervals or so.

Aurora borealis (photograph civility Wikipedia)

And without this attractive field, which shields us from a significant part of the solar breeze, which is a consistent stream of radiation, the earth would probably be a desolate wasteland deprived of its air – similar as Mars today.

The truth that you are perusing this is evidence of exactly how incredible a task the earth’s attractive field does in avoiding solar-charged particles around our little planet.

In truth, the lone spots that these charged particles can enter our climate are at the posts, where our defensive attractive field is weak.

Diagram of the earth’s attractive field (picture politeness

The auroras are made when profoundly charged particles created by solar flares travel in excess of 140,000,000 kilometers, slip in through the earth’s powerless attractive protections at the posts, and enter our atmosphere.

If they are vigorous (exceptionally charged) enough, these solar particles will make light when they hit oxygen molecules (green) or nitrogen iotas (blue and red).

How + when + where

Actually seeing Aurora Borealis is tied in with expanding your odds of seeing them, and this is the thing that is involved.

Recent solar flares need to have produced the flood of charged particles. While the sun continually makes solar flares, the measure of flares produced recurring patterns in a roughly eleven-year solar cycle . We are currently coming off the pinnacle of solar cycle 24 , what began in 2008, implying that you ought to either design your excursion in a hurry (winter 2016 or 2017) or stand by until around 2025 when the following cycle is expected to peak.

The latest eleven-year solar cycles

While the aurora borealis has been viewed as far south as Louisiana and southern Europe, and they can even be found in sunshine, that’s simply liable to happen when especially enormous solar flares discharge their energy the perfect way at the perfect time. So risks are against that happening.

To increment your odds of seeing Aurora Borealis, you need to be where you can see them in any event, during generally gentle solar flares, which are significantly more incessant than huge flares.

Aurora borealis in Norway (photograph civility Wikipedia)

The earth’s attractive field is most vulnerable at the posts and gets more grounded the further you are from the shafts. So the nearer you are toward the North Pole, the almost certain you are to see the aurora borealis.

And you will need as much haziness (or as minimal encompassing light) as conceivable on the grounds that it is simpler to see a weak light against a dark foundation than against a light foundation. So dodge enormous towns and urban areas as the entirety of that light contamination is probably going to overwhelm any auroras.

And maintaining a strategic distance from light likewise implies dodging sunlight. You have more odds of seeing auroras around evening time, so the more extended the evening, the better the chances. Fortunately, Arctic winters are too referred to for their length as their severity.

Wintertime – October to March comprehensive – in or close to the Arctic Circle is about perfect.

The aurora borealis as seen from the ISS/International Space Station (photograph kindness Wikipedia)

One other thing to think about is climate. Auroras generally happen around at an elevation somewhere in the range of 80 and 600 kilometers above ocean level. And while slim or broken mists can make for inconceivably terrific auroras as the mists are enlightened just as the air, if there is an excessive amount of cloud you don’t see anything at all.

Where is best for you to have a decent possibility of seeing Aurora Borealis relies upon where you reside and how long and cash you need to dedicate to the experience. And beyond a shadow of a doubt, an outing to see the aurora borealis is probably going to be a greater amount of an experience than an unwinding holiday.

Aurora borealis shot in Abisko, Sweden on February 20, 2016

So where did we go and what did we see?

If we lived in North America, we would probably have been taking a gander at attempting to see Aurora Borealis in Alaska. Notwithstanding, as we live in Europe, we decided to venture out to Abisko in Sweden, 250 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle.

That included flying first to Stockholm, at that point another trip to Kiruna in the north of Sweden. While Kiruna itself is a famous objective for aurora searchers and is pleasantly arranged around 150 kilometers inside the Arctic Circle, we voyaged another 100 kilometers further north to the little town of Abisko on the grounds that it profits by a moderately dry miniature environment that outcomes in more clear skies.

Aurora borealis shot in Abisko, Sweden on February 20, 2016

Norway, Finland, and Iceland are additionally worth considering if going from Europe.

Due to time requirements we just had four evenings in Abisko and it went this way: we showed up in Abisko around 9:00 pm; we saw Aurora Borealis around 11:00 pm and I took three snappy photographs. And we didn’t perceive any auroras once more (yet we did some journeying and mushing).

Kakslauttanen lodging in Finland with glass rooftops ideal for skygazing

Nighttime temperatures dropped to less 20°C (- 4°F) and can get a lot colder; the absence of rest was tiring; and the inn ( Abisko Mountain Lodge ) was essential (however perfect, extraordinary staff, and amazing food). There are many inns in Abisko, and the STF Abisko Mountain Station is additionally worth checking out.

Aurora borealis shot in Abisko, Sweden on February 20, 2016


  • Plan on remaining seven days to give yourself however much possibility as could be expected to get the lights. Take apparel appropriate for investing extensive stretches of energy being moderately dormant outside at low temperatures.
  • Take a nice camera, wide-point focal point, stand and, on the off chance that you can, a period slip by distant. And ensure you can comfortably utilize the camera in obscurity and cold before the sky detonates in light.
  • Make sure that there are different exercises in the territory like journeying and mushing on the off chance that aurora movement is low.
  • Your rest will be upset as you will be up a significant part of the evening. Auroras, on the off chance that they show up by any means, may just be obvious for a couple of moments during any evening and you will miss them in the event that you are sleeping (except if you are resting under a glass roof).
  • And don’t get hung up on checking the aurora conjectures as they are unpleasant aides as it were. Auroras regularly show up when they shouldn’t and don’t show when they should.

I’m not a specific enthusiast of chilly climate – tropical sea shores are more my style – I am very partial to having a decent night’s rest and we “only” saw the auroras for one night out of four.

So was it all beneficial? The most intelligent response to that is the way that we are as of now arranging our next outing back to Abisko.

For more on seeing auroras, you may discover these sites fascinating:

When is the best an ideal opportunity to do Aurora Photography ?

General exhortation:

27-day aurora estimate: 107-cm-radio-transition and-geomagnetic-records

One-hour aurora borealis conjecture for Europe:

One-hour aurora australis conjecture for Australia/New Zealand:

Look at the iPhone application Northern Lights Photo Taker

* This article was first distributed on March 1, 2016 at The How, What, When, Where And Why Of Seeing The Aurora Borealis, AKA Northern Lights .

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