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Where Can I See The Northern Lights?

Last night and today, social media and the news were awash with images and tails of the northern lights. A severe geomagnetic storm, caused by two pulses of energy from the sun, meant that the amazing Aurora Borealis was seen as far south as the Brecon Beacons, in what was a rare occurrence.

It is not unusual for this phenomenon to be witnessed in parts of Scotland, but sightings as widespread as last night are few and far between. If you didn’t manage to catch this awe-inspiring sight though, here are some other ways you can see the Northern Lights for yourself.

What Causes The Northern Lights?

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Put simply, the Northern Lights are caused by the sun releases solar-charged particles which then react with the particles in our atmosphere to produce light. This only occurs if the Earth happens to be in the path of these solar pulses, and so the stars literally have to align correctly for it to be visible.

Delving deeper into the explanation involves a moderate grasp of physics. We know that the atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere are made up of a nucleus that is orbited by varying numbers of electrons. When the sun’s solar particles interact with these electrons, it causes them to expand their orbit so that they are travelling further away from the nucleus and at a higher energy level. Upon returning to normal, the electrons release light particles known as photons which produce the bright colours. This process is similar to what happens when a neon sign produces light.

It’s worth noting that the colours seen in photographs of the Northern Lights are more exaggerated then when seen with the naked eye. This is to do with the way our eyes see light during night time.

Where Can I See The Northern Lights?

Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis are visible throughout the entire Arctic Circle (and in some places outside it). Therefore, you have a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights when travelling to countries such as Iceland, Greenland, Norway, and Canada.

The best way to enhance your chances of witnessing this natural phenomenon during your polar expedition is to choose one of our designated Northern Lights cruises. These hand-picked itineraries include special trips on which the primary goal is to catch a glimpse of nature’s famous light show.

When Can I See The Northern Lights?

Northern Lights

Although September and October are seen as peek months, the Northern Lights actually occur all year round in the places mentioned above, but they are not always visible. Here are some of the optimum conditions you need to see them in all their glory.

Darkness – The Aurora Borealis only show up at night, and that means they cannot be seen during the time when the Midnight Sun is in the sky. Destinations such as Iceland, Greenland and Spitsbergen experience 24-hour sunlight during certain periods in the summer, so this will be a time when they cannot be seen.

Clear Skies – The weather needs to be right for you to see the colours stream across the sky. Any cloud or fog could mask them from view.

No Light Pollution – Pollution from other light sources, such as a nearby town or city, can dilute the way you see the Northern Lights. That’s why more remote areas, like the ones we’ll take you to, offer a much better vantage point.

If you would like more information about our Northern Lights cruises, please call us today or submit your enquiry online.