Have you ever wanted to witness the captivating Northern Lights on a holiday deep within the magnificent Arctic Circle? Here is everything you need to know.
The Northern Lights or the famous Aurora Borealis – are a magical, eerie, silent yet awe-inspiringly dramatic sight – a vast, multi-coloured, fiery curtain in the sky. Trips with specialist tour operator TRANSUN to Karesuando, a village bordering both the Finnish and Swedish lapland in the far north of Europe, includes Northern Lights excursions.
With their specialist knowledge to assist you at every step of the way there is no need for you to handle all the arranging and organising, which is a complicated job at the best of times, thanks mainly to the unpredictability of the lights and the weather patterns. It’s the Transun job to figure out where they’re most likely to appear, and your job simply to enjoy them.
Tips for seeing the Aurora Borealis
There isn’t any reliable scientific research about the times of year when the lights are most and least likely to occur. Auroras happen throughout the year but because they’re impossible to see against the super-light late night northern summer skies, the TRANSUN trips tend to take place when the night skies are at their darkest.
What month is best to view them?
Given that it is easier to see the lights against a dark, clear sky as clouds hide the Aurora it would suggest that September to April might be the best time to plan your trip. The aurora’s intensity depends on the sun’s Solar Cycle, an eleven year cycle that swings from maximum to minimum. A Solar Maximum stage brings a brightly coloured Aurora and regular appearances. A Solar Minimum however tends to make the aurora happen less frequently.
January to March are the most popular months for aurora-spotting, with their very long and extremely dark nights. Some say the Aurora is more likely to appear on colder nights but there is no real proof of that. It’s also possible that because most of the winter snow has already fallen, we’re left with clearer skies and great Aurora views.
From April to August the skies are too light and much too late, to see the show, which is happening invisibly in the skies but can’t be seen without special equipment.
September and October are perfect for Aurora watchers who are not keen on experiencing the full-blown Arctic winter, which is excruciatingly cold. You might even be lucky enough to experience a very special Northern Lights display so vivid that it reflects in the mirror-like, ice-free rivers and lakes to deliver something truly mind blowing.
November and December see the first deep snows arriving as the frozen north descends into winter. The cloud cover can obscure the lights but at the same time the shorter days and darker skies mean there’s more chance of seeing them.
Our conclusion? The best time will usually be November to March.
What time of night is best?
The Northern Lights are notoriously difficult to predict anything more than a couple of hours in advance, although your organisers will do everything they can to catch them at the perfect time. If you’re in the right place at the right time, the solar winds are strong and the sun’s good and active, you could even catch one of the really big shows, the kind of Aurora that can be seen by people across the entire night sky.
How long does the magic last?
Once they appear the Northern Lights can last for an entire night if you’re lucky or just for a ten minutes if you are less fortunate. Having said that just ten minutes of the lights’ extraordinary glory is enough to deliver enough awe to last a lifetime, the Northern Lights are truly a sight that you will never forget.
Time to make your plans
Now you know the best time for the Aurora Borealis, you can plan your holiday around a potential sighting. But even if the Northern Lights don’t play ball, you’ll will still have the most incredible time exploring an extraordinary landscape and a remarkable culture, a winter holiday destination with a real difference.
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