Everything You Need To Know About The Northern Lights

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The Northern Lights also known as Aurora Borealis, are nature’s highest talked about mystery and every true traveler’s mission to see. So if you’ve ever been curious about the Northern Lights and wanted to know more about this magical God send phenomenon, look no further because I am here to share with you everything you need to know about The Northern Lights!

 

What Are The Northern Lights?

Let’s start at the basic, what are those crazy lights in the sky? Many people have no idea what these crazy lights even are. Are they aliens? Lasers? Magic? God? I’ve heard people ask all of these and more.

The Northern Lights are collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere.

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Colors

One of the most magical things about the Northern Lights is that they change to different colors, depending on how strong they are. The most common color is a light glowy green. But the Northern Lights also come in yellow, pink, purple/blue and ruby red.

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Patterns 

Seeing the Northern Lights is such a rare and special thing to see, it’s like watching an artist play with watercolor in front of your own eyes. You never really know when it will appear and what it will look like when you see it. At times you might see it as a spot in the sky, other times they are in a shape of a rainbow, rippling curtains shape, a steady glow and sometimes if you’re lucky they are all of the above all at the same time at different parts of the sky. They move pretty fast in a swerving motion, when they are in a rainbow shape, kinda like a tornado.

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How long will they appear? 

This is a very tricky question to answer because you can never predict just how long they will appear for. Sometimes the lights will appear for a few short seconds and at other times they can last hours. They can also appear at one location and then suddenly disappear and appear at a completely different locations hours away. But I think that’s what makes them so special and rare to discover. It really is a mission trying to chase them down. When you may not even notice or be looking for them, they appear and when you want to see them so bad and look for them everywhere, they are nowhere to be found.

2013 © Christopher Martin

When?

During the winter time is the best time to see the Northern Lights, best months are anywhere between November and end of January. You might still see them in October, February, and March and possibly in September, but honestly, I wouldn’t take that risk. If it’s important for you to actually see them and a bucket list item, you might as well go during the season. If you’re gonna do it, you gotta do it right! (check out my Bucket List: Vanilla Sky Dreaming Bucket List)

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Under what conditions?

Weather is EVERYTHING when trying to see the Northern Lights! I can’t stretch that enough! You can’t just plan to go and see them because no one really knows if they will come or not. There is so much that goes into making the perfect sighting, I mean a lot! The weather has to be PERFECT! The sky needs to be completely clear, no clouds, no rain, no snow, which you may think is easy and simple, but the only real time to see them is during the winter at some of the coldest places in the world! The higher you are in the equator, the more dramatic the weather conditions get.

The weather in Iceland, for example, changes FAST! In a 30min time spam, it could start off sunny, then out of nowhere the sky turns gray, the wind start and before you know you’re standing in a crazy blizzard! You start panicking and running for cover, you can’t see a single thing in front of you because of all the snow flying at you and a few minutes later, the sun comes up again. You might think you’re ok right now and then 2mins later it’s raining on you! It’s completely nuts! Which like I said makes it very hard to predict if the weather will be right to see the lights. (to read more about my amazing time in Iceland: Iceland, The Place Where Dreams Are Made!)

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How long should I plan a trip to see The Northern Lights? 

Honestly, anywhere between 5-7 days and that still doesn’t guarantee that you will even see anything, so the longer the better. It would totally suck to plan the perfect trip, take time off of work or school, pay for hotel, airfare and everything else that comes with planning a trip and not be able to see them! If that happened to me, I think I would have had a nervous breakdown! I was extremely lucky to see them on my last night in Iceland and I was there for 5 days.

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What’s It Like To See The Northern Lights?

AMAZING!!! I have been chasing down the Northern Lights for as long as I can remember, with many failed attempts at actually getting a trip together and finally going! Seeing the Northern Lights is something very difficult to describe into words because it all happens too fast, in a blink of an eye. It looks like an amazing laser show created by the heavens.

I will say this, though…

The lights, however, aren’t as green or pink as they may look in photos! They look more like the photo above. Your eyes can’t fully capture the lights as a camera lens does. But nevertheless, it was an incredible experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life. It has always been the highest item on my bucket list and I’m so happy to have finally put a check mark right next to it!

I really can’t wait to visit Iceland again and see them again or any of the other Scandinavian countries.

and the WHERE? Will be in a future blog post!

To read more about my amazing experience with seeing the Northern Lights check out: Chasing The Northern Lights – Iceland

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