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Friday
Oct092015

5 Places To See The Northern Lights

As one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, most of us are eager to one day in our lives see the bright dancing lights in the sky of Aurora Borealis. Except for being close to the Arctic Circle, in order to spot them you also need to get away from any city lights in order to be in complete darkness and see the shimmering light in the sky.

When the magnetic fields of the solar wind and the earth collide, it is the sun’s electrically charged particles which strike the gaseous particles of our atmosphere. The charged particles make the gases in the atmosphere glow and because there a millions of particles, it creates bright fluorescent lights in the sky.

The particles can only enter the atmosphere at the magnetic north and south pole, which is why the Northern Lights are visible only around the North and South Pole. In the south, they are called Aurora Australis. The colourful display of Aurora is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world. From the furthest to the closest, here are the best places to the Northern Lights.

Alaska

Flickr | Jim TrodelMaybe Alaska is the first place you thought of when hearing the words ‘Northern Lights’. In almost the entire state, you could look up at night and see Aurora due to the proximity to the Arctic Circle.
On clear nights, the green lights are visible all over the sky. The closest town to go to is Fairbanks. It is in the centre of the Aurora belt and, leaving the city lights a mile or so behind, you will have a clear view of the Northern Lights.

Canada

Flickr | Anthony DeLorenzoIf not Alaska, then Canada is a great place to go! All along the north of the country, from the eastern part of Quebec, to Manitoba where the Polar bears are, to the Northwest Territories and Yukon, the Northern Lights span all across.

In winter, you may have to put up with temperatures of fifty below, but it is definitely worth it for a view of a colourful sparkling sky over the Yukon River or Fish Lake

Finland

Flickr | Kelvin LimInstead of putting on thermal clothing and heading out late at night to see Northern Lights, why not simply lie down in bed, under a cosy duvet and look up at them? It is possible, as long as your bed is in a home made of glass.

A resort in Finland has now opened glass igloos to rent so you can fall asleep gazing at the stars and Aurora Borealis. Other options are igloos made of snow or a warm sleeping bag and wool socks!

Iceland

Flickr | Moyan Brenn

The best time to see Northern Lights is during winter months – ideally between November and February – as it is dark enough to see the lights clearly. The Aurora cycle is usually a couple of active nights, followed by four or five nights of very low activity so it is important to plan enough time to see them. During a week-long stay there is a very good chance to see lights, as it is about the time of one complete cycle. The sky has to be clear which often means it is the cold nights that are best for Aurora sightings.

Sweden

Flickr | ArildAs always with the Northern Lights, the further north you go, the better. In Sweden, the best place to be is in the province of Lapland in the far north west of the country, bordering Finland. The ideal place to be is Abisko National Park, just north of Kiruna, the most northern Swedish town. The park is a so-called ‘blue hole’, where the skies are clear even when the surrounding area is overcast, making it the ideal place to see Aurora. Another great place is Porjus, a small village north of the Arctic Circle. It is close to national parks and due to the size of the village, the light pollution is very low; again, excellent conditions to get a view of the brightly dancing green and pink lights in the sky.

By Claire Herbaux - Online Journalism Intern

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