Now Is A Really Good Time To Go See The Northern Lights
Tick the Aurora off your bucket list at one of these places, stat.
If it has long been your dream to head out for a little Aurora Borealis spotting -- then now could be a very good time to do it. You see, from now until March/April is prime viewing time -- mostly because you need darkness to see the northern lights. All it takes is an airfare.
Actually that isn't all it takes. You also need clear skies.
Winter and springtime are generally less cloudy than autumn in and around the northern auroral zone, so a trip between December and April makes sense. And ideally, experts say you should time your trip to coincide with the new moon, and make sure to get away from city lights.
And when you're there, looking for them? You need to be organised.
"Dress warmly, plan to watch the sky between 10 pm and 2 am local time, although an active period can occur anytime during the dark hours," says the Geophysical Institute of Alaska's guide to aurora viewing, which has lots of great information. "Active periods are typically about 30 minutes long, and occur every two hours, if the activity is high. The aurora is a sporadic phenomenon, occurring randomly for short periods or perhaps not at all."
Remember, there is no guarantee -- but you can maximise your chances by heading to certain places before the weather warms up and the days get longer.
If you're looking for lights, head to Tromso, the largest city in northern Norway. Surrounded by fjords, mountains and islands, light season here is from September to April and if you go soon, you'll be in time for the annual Northern Lights Festival.
The lights are often visible from the outer suburbs of Reykjavik (the Grotta lighthouse is popular)-- but you can also do tours from the city that guarantee far better conditions to see them. Imagine sitting in a geothermal pool and watching the lights appear. It could happen.
What's known as the ‘aurora oval’ sweeps across most of the country of Canada, including the vast province of Yukon. Given that most of the province is uninhabited, with virtually zero light pollution and it's an Aurora spotters dream. Head over around the March equinox, which is said to coincide with increased solar activity.
At 65 degrees north (two degrees below the Arctic) the sky in Fairbanks, Alaska is pretty much guaranteed to give lights four out of five nights from August to April. That's pretty good odds.
And while you'll be freezing your butt off to get that shot, it mean you are likely to have more success here than in other places.
Northern Sweden is cold and wild but the sky is clear and weather is stable -- good conditions for Aurora spotting. If you're really keen, head north to the small village of Abisko, in the middle of the Skanderna mountain range. Here you can visit the Aurora Sky Station, where an open chair lift takes you up to an observation deck on a mountainside. One of the best places in the world to see the lights in action.
Greenland is the world's largest island and the world's most sparsely populated one at that -- which makes it perfect for seeing the lights. If you are travelling here, you should be able to see them from anywhere in the country until March/April . And interestingly, according to Inuit legend here, when the northern lights dance in the night sky, it means that the dead are playing football with a walrus skull.
Feature Image: Getty