Almost everyone I speak to has this on a list to check off. You probably know those beautiful photos and videos from northern Scandinavia. I want to see that too! But unfortunately, a natural phenomenon is not something that can be taken for granted if you have booked a winter trip north. Clouds are disastrous, but that’s not all, you have to do something about it yourself! Sitting by the fireplace and occasionally looking through the window with a sideways glance is not enough. There are apps, websites, but there is also another thing you can pay attention to. More about that later, tips at the bottom of the page!
What exactly is that, that Aurora Borealis?
A simple explanation of a complex thing. Solar wind, well that speaks for itself I think. When our sun erupts from plasma clouds, very small particles are sent into space in all directions. These particles have a magnetic charge. When they come near our planet they are attracted to the poles. The magnetic north and south poles. They release so much energy and collide with particles in the atmosphere near Earth. This can create all kinds of shapes and colors that we call the northern lights. Because those particles deflect towards the pole, you often get that ‘dancing’ effect.
I had already seen the Northern Lights several times. but it wasn’t really much more than a white line that turned green due to the long shutter speed of the camera, until the end of August (!) 2015. The group I guided had only been in Iceland for two days and we camped at an almost deserted campsite in the Golden Circle in southwest Iceland. It drizzled in the afternoon but in the evening it cleared, it was clear and cold. We decided to go to Geysir early the next morning so we went to our tent early. One of the girls wanted to walk a bit to get warm in her sleeping bag (tip!).
Fine, I said, as safe as Iceland is, but just tell me at my tent that you’re back.
I’m back and I’m seeing Northern Lights!
In no time everyone was outside their tent marveling. It just got better and better. Green, orange, yellow, everything is reviewed. Also all kinds of shapes and it just kept going. No one from that group will ever forget this, including myself!
Photos taken with the group at the end of August 2015
There are often signs that the Northern Lights are active. A line that looks like clouds on a clear night. It looks like a plane has flown, a line like that. If you focus on that you often see some movement. At least now you know for sure that it can happen.
There are also various apps to spot the northern lights. The northern lights also have an indexation, the so-called KP index. The higher the number, the greater the chance!
Veður is the climatological service in Iceland. In addition to an excellent overview of the weather, including rain radar, you can also predict more easily where you might see the Northern Lights. The site is very extensive and also available in English. You can even watch earthquakes here!
Well fingers crossed!