Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights
By Terri Mapes, About.com Guide
The creation of the Aurora Borealis:
The Northern Lights (also called Aurora Borealis) stem from when large numbers of electrons stream in towards the Earth along its magnetic field and collide with air particles. The air then lights up rather like what happens in a fluorescent light tube. The resulting colors of the Northern Lights reflect gases we find up there. The charged particles originate from the sun, and the weather conditions on the sun decide whether or not we will see the aurora.
The best time to see the Aurora Borealis:
We associate the Aurora Borealis with dark winter nights, although this natural phenomenon happens all the time (it’s just harder to see in lighter conditions). Best are September through April, 11 pm – 2 am. The further south in Scandinavia you go, the shorter the Aurora Borealis season will be.
The aurora can be viewed best during early evening and at night when it’s not overcast.
During other times of the year, make sure to see the top 3 Scandinavian natural phenomena!
Where to see the Aurora Borealis:
To see this phenomenon, visit the auroral zone (or any location beyond the Arctic Circle) where the Northern Lights occur. Tourists’ favorite viewing locations are the coasts of the Norwegian counties of Tromsø and Finnmark – especially the North Cape (Nordkapp).
The Northern Lights can be viewed from other northern locations as well, but the northern half of Norway and Sweden, as well as all of Iceland are famous for having “the best seats” for viewing the Aurora Borealis.
How often you can see the Aurora Borealis:
This depends on your location. In Norway‘s city of Tromso (Tromsø) and at the North Cape (Nordkapp), you can see the Northern Lights every other clear night, if not even more frequently. The same goes for locations further north.
How to take pictures of the Aurora Borealis:
You may already have the photography equipment you need. Now, find out how to photograph the Northern Lights yourself!
The scientific explanation of Aurora Borealis:
Aurora Borealis forms at around 60 miles high (around 100 km) which makes the lights visible hundreds of kilometers away. The cause for this phenomenon is electrons hitting air particles, causing them to light up.
When you see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) for the first time, you will be amazed at the lit-up skies. Scientifically, this phenomena is referred to as “polar aurora” and “aurora polaris”. More commonly in northern regions is the name Aurora Borealis. Particularly in Scandinavia, the Aurora Borealis often appears as a reddish glow on the northern horizon…like a dark sunrise in the middle of the night.