Northern Lights: All You Need To Know

If you’re fascinated about the amazing things in the world, one of the things you must see is Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis. It’s truly a spectacular phenomena of our mother nature. I’m fortunate enough to see this once, and it was such a pleasing sight to the eyes. I was lost in the beautiful shimmering sky. Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen dancing in the flickering lights. In Norse mythology the aurora was known as a fire bridge to the sky built by the Gods. However, science tells us that the aurora happens because of the sun. I remember wondering what causes the Northern Lights. So for anyone who is interested in finding out more facts about Northern Lights including best places to see Auroras, read on.

Northern Lights Facts

What Causes The Northern Lights?

What Causes Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis above the Bear Lake, Alaska | (cc) Photo By Joshua Strang, USAF

When I saw this beautiful and colorful marvel in the sky, my mind kept asking what causes Aurora Borealis. It’s not a bridge to an amazing world as I want it to be. There’s of course a scientific explanation. Our sun’s magnetic field throws charged particles from its atmosphere out into the space. As these particles reach close to the Earth, they are pulled in by its magnetic field, which pulls them down to the magnetic poles. Before they reach our planet, the charged particles hit the Earth’s atmosphere and collide with the gases found. The reaction between these particles and the gases create energy. This energy is given off as light, which is called the Northern Lights. Science says the different gases in Earth’s atmosphere give off different colors when they are excited. The colors most often associated with the Northern Lights are red (hydrogen), green (oxygen), blue (nitrogen) and occasionally orange and white. When the particles collide with oxygen, yellow and green are produced. Interactions with nitrogen produce red, violet, and occasionally blue colors.

What Are The Best Places To See Northern Lights?

Where To See Northern Lights

Aurora In The Yukon | (cc) Photo By Phil Hart

You can’t see Aurora Borealis from anywhere in the world unfortunately. There are select few places where you can see this amazing nature’s wonder. The lights are usually seen in the far north. Some of the best places to see Northern Lights border the Arctic Ocean – Canada and Alaska, Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Greenland and Russia. Strong displays of the lights can extend down into more southerly latitudes in the United States. However, the best place to see the Northern Lights is the Arctic Circle. These places draw serious ‘aurora-seekers’ because of their consistently clear skies and the brightness of the lights. Your chances are good, if you’re at one of the mentioned places, even if you can’t make it as far as the Arctic Circle.

What Is The Best Time To See Northern Lights?

Best Time To See Northern Lights

Aurora In Canada | (cc) Photo By Image Editor

September, October, March and April are some of the best months to view the Aurora Borealis. The lights are known to be brighter and more active for up to two days after sunspot activity is at its highest. Scientists hypothesize the winter of 2012-2013 is expected to bring near-peak viewing conditions. NASA scientists have predicted the current period of solar maximum activity will reach a new peak in December. Travelers to the far north will be treated with the best possible conditions for seeing Northern Lights. If you have been keeping an eye out for Aurora Borealis forecast for winter holiday destinations, this year is a good year. Make sure you check the Northern Lights forecast before booking your holidays.

How About Taking A Northern Lights Cruise?

Nothern Lights Cruise

Aurora In Norway | (cc) Photo By Frank Olsen

If you’re seriously thinking about seeing this beautiful sky even at one of the best places to see Northern Lights, then taking a Northern Lights cruise is one of the best ways to enjoy it. Each of the hotspot destinations will offer some wonderful cruise options. You will find several major cruise lines introducing extra voyages this winter to some of the top Northern Lights destinations. It’s a great time to book that Alaska cruise trip you wanted. Also read the earlier post – last minute cruise deals to get a great deal to see the Aurora.

23 Responses to “Northern Lights: All You Need To Know”

  1. These places are enchanted. And one will pay a lot to see them in reality! great!

  2. Agness says:

    I’m speechless. So impressive lights. You took the photography to the next level girl!
    Agness recently posted..5 Tips On How To Travel Central America On The CheapMy Profile

  3. I was lucky enough to see them in Finland, they were beautiful!

  4. Rachel says:

    This phenomena is truly magnificent yet kinda scary.. I haven’t seen it and I hope to catch one when I get the chance to visit either of those places.

  5. Seeing the Northern Lights some day is definitely on my travel wish list – those photos are amazing!!
    Lisa Goodmurphy recently posted..A Haunted Walking Tour of TorontoMy Profile

  6. Hi Salika,
    Oohhh, you made more excited!!! I’m northbound in a month for northern lights hunting! I hope we really got lucky and see ones as beautiful as the ones in your photos. Keep your fingers cross for us:)
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..Thimphu, Bhutan (Part 1): The Festival, the Big Buddha and the CityMy Profile

    • Salika Jay says:

      Hi Marisol, Wow that’s great! This winter is suppose to be really good for seeing Northern Lights. So hope you will see some beautiful sights :)

  7. I’ve seen the Northern Lights, and I agree, it’s such a wonderful and unforgettable sight!
    Freya Renders recently posted..Vatican and Sistine Chapel early entrance TourMy Profile

  8. I would love to see the Northern Lights one of these days. It just looks so spectacular. One of these days..I may get the timing right or head to Alaska. These pictures are beautiful!
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..Strolling Down the Golden Lane in PragueMy Profile

  9. Wonderful pictures, Salika. Observing it has always been in my bucket list. I can’t wait to get there someday, somehow.
    Aleah | recently posted..Best Day Trips from Shanghai, ChinaMy Profile

  10. I’d love to see the Northern Lights someday. The picture of the lights in Canada is stunning! Where were you when you saw them?
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..Sacramento: To the Capital!My Profile

  11. Derek Freal says:

    Lucky you! I’ve yet to see the northern lights firsthand but it is very high up on my bucket list. Of course I also want to see the Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights ;)
    Derek Freal recently posted..Panjat Pinang, The Slippery Traditional Game Of IndonesiaMy Profile