Northern Lights in Scandinavia
Replies: 47 - Last Post: Jan 31, 2008 1:23 PM Last Post By: _ecco_
Nov 24, 2004 8:05 AM
Northern Lights in ScandinaviaWhat are Northern Lights? (Aurora borealis)
The Northern Lights are caused by the interaction between the solar wind, the Earth's magnetic field and the upper atmosphere; a similar effect happens in the southern hemisphere where it is known as the aurora australis.
They are present all year long but are mostly visible during winter time, because in Scandiavian summer it won't get dark (enough)
Where to see Northern lights?
Basically the more North you go the better chances you have and the more beautifull the colours get, more south the colour is more like red.
to see the Northern lights the skies need to be clear, therefor it's better to go somewhere inland (Sweden, Finland) than to stay near the coast (Norway, Iceland) as it is very often cloudy and foggy on these countries coasts.
Also it's better to stay in a rural area as cities pollute the skies with light and the Northern lights may look less intensive.
When to see the Northern lights?
Short answer when it's dark at night, but preferably when there's high solar activity, some websites give information about this:
Pleas use this thread for any questions or links about Auora Borealis.
Nov 24, 2004 8:27 AM
Nov 24, 2004 9:08 AM
Nov 24, 2004 9:46 AM
3I read somwhere that north of the polar circle there are "Northern Lights" EVERY night during Dec-Jan. In the Stockholm-area at the same period there is only "Northern Lights" 1 night out of 20. Statisticlly counted of course...
Nov 24, 2004 9:50 AM
Nov 24, 2004 12:15 PM
Nov 24, 2004 1:10 PM
6on another page of the same site geomagnetic data you can see that you shouldn't go to far north: the northern lights are strongest on a ring that more or less coincides with the polar circle
Nov 25, 2004 12:24 PM
7Overview the last few hours http://sec.noaa.gov/pmap/OverviewN.html
Nov 28, 2004 4:41 AM
8igor, what you say is true. But the colors are stronger further north. I live in Oslo, and here it is just greenish most of the time (not red as 'the devil' writes).
eti, the brownish part of 'doughnut' you are refering to has its outer limit approximately at the artic circle these days. It continues up north past
Spitsbergen. So it is not likely that one should end up too far north to see it.
Nov 30, 2004 1:43 AM
9I posted this on the FAQ thread a while ago, but here goes anyway.
Northern Lights Information, FAQ and Where to View
Yes, here is the one of the most often asked questions. When or will I be able to observe the lights?" The answer is no one knows for sure, not until a few hours before the actual display.
The aurora isn't constant; it is always on the move. The auroral oval can be regarded as fixed in space with reference to the sun. As the earth revolves underneath, the daily variations in the aurora's position occur.
Observing the aurora is a test of your patience and the aurora itself. Stay inside the aurora oval at least a week, preferably two, and you will be rewarded - unless local weather suddenly decides to obstruct your view with a thick layer of clouds.
Northern lights are more frequent in late autumn and early spring. October, February and March are the best months for auroral observations in northern Norway.
The best that can happen is to predict aurora displays three days in advance. Why? Because three days is the mean time it takes particle clouds emitted from the Sun to travel to Earth, and it is these particles which fuel the northern lights.
Northern lights activity corresponds closely to sunspot activity, which follows an 11-year cycle. When the number of spots peak, we have what is referred to as solar maximum, and likewise solar minimum when the sunspot activity is low. The more sunspots, the more solar particles are ejected out into deep space and thus more auroras occur on earth. Northern lights activity is 20-30% less during solar minimum than at solar maximum.
How often can you see the Northern Lights? In Troms and Finnmark, we can see the Northern Lights every other clear night, if not even more frequently. From southern Norway, sightings would be only a few times a month while in central Europe hardly more than a few times a year and they have even been seen from the Mediterranean but only a few times each century. To the north of the auroral zone, on Spitzbergen, the Northern Lights are a common sight, although they don’t appear as often as in northern Norway.
When can we see the Northern Lights? We associate the Northern Lights with wintertime, although in reality they are present the year round; it’s just that we can’t see them when the nights are light as the background sky has to be fairly dark. In practice, in northern Norway we are restricted to the period starting at the beginning of September and extending until the middle of April. On the other hand, if the Northern Lights are strong enough, they may still be seen against a twilight sky, and it is not unusual to see them from Tromsø on an August evening. The Northern Lights are often referred to as “night aurora” because they occur on the night side of the Earth and they commonly appear in the early evening and continue late into the night. Although this is the most usual form of aurora, during winter on Spitzbergen, where it is dark even at midday, it is possible to observe the rarer “day aurora” which occurs on the “day side” of the Earth. The aurora lies well above the highest clouds, so we need clear skies to be able to see it. In fact, cloudy skies are the greatest obstacle for auroral observations in northern Norway and for this reason the inland regions are better suited than near the coast. The days around full moon are not conducive to viewing the Northern Lights because the background sky becomes so light. Finally, one should avoid cities and areas with much street lighting in order to experience the Northern Lights to the full.
How high up are the Northern Lights? Most aurorae occur between 90 and 130 km above sea level, but some, particularly the ray-like forms, extend to several hundred kilometers up. In comparison, the usual altitude for a jet aircraft is around 10km and the ozone layer lies between 20 and 30km so we have to be almost up at the heights of satellites’ orbits to be at the same height as the aurora. A consequence of its great height is that the aurora is visible at horizontal distances of several hundred kilometers. Thus an aurora over Bear Island will be visible from both Spitzbergen and Tromsø, and one over Tromsø can be seen in the northern sky from central Norway.
What exactly are the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights stem from when large numbers of electrically charged particles (electrons) at high speed stream in towards the Earth along its magnetic field and collide with the highest air particles. The air then lights up rather like what happens in a fluorescent light tube. The resulting colours reflect which gases we find up there, the most usual yellow-green colour coming from oxygen. Red colouring is also due to oxygen with a contribution from nitrogen. The violet we often see at the lower edge of the aurora is due to nitrogen, as is most blue colouring. The charged particles originate from the sun, and it is the “weather” conditions on the sun that decide whether or not we will see the aurora. Particles can stream out from the sun and some are captured by the Earth’s magnetic field and find their way into the polar regions. On the way, they travel out into the night side of the Earth and gain extra energy - we still lack understanding of exactly what happens out there!
There you go it's pot luck and never try to observe them in the morning, wait at least until 1900 and hopefully the weather is clear.
Dec 12, 2004 6:51 AM
Dec 15, 2004 1:23 PM
11Allright. Here follows a patriotic swedish Laplanders point of wiew of watching the northern lights...
Go to Swedish Lapland for the best wiew of the lights!
I cant see how any other place could be better in any way.
Comparing to Finnish Lapland: Well, there's almost no way of comparing us two... Just look at a map for christs sake!!! The scenery is completely different and the sami culture is definitly more vivant and strong here. But the finnish have been much better at marketing and selling whatever they have there. Bet hello people, you've exploited it now! Rovaniemi and Santa Claus land is giving Lapland a bad reputation! But you have a few good eco-tourism companies as well so nothing bad about them.
Have you ever heard of the Laponia World Heritage? That area is the heart and soul of Lapland. (www.laponia.nu) But very forgotten and unknown from a touristic perspective.
Go cross- country skiing a clear midwinter night, ex on lake Saggat, out of eiter Kvikkjokk or Årrenjarka (www.arrenjarka.com). Hear the ice sing and moan as it freezes, watch the lights as it flames across the starry skie... Look for moose and reindeers in the edge of he forest, as they are coming down from the mountains now. Well that's what I'm doing tonight at least.
Welcome to the real Lapland!
Dec 20, 2004 2:16 PM
Go to Swedish Lapland for the best wiew of the lights!(...) The scenery is completely different and the sami culture is definitly more vivant and strong here.
Uhm. I don't want to start any fight but...what does culture have to ability to see the Northern Lights? Isn't it too much of local patriotism, #14?
Dec 26, 2004 6:56 PM
Dec 28, 2004 12:54 PM
14Asking about Nortern Light is about the same like asking when and where I can expect a rainbow to appear. Nobody is able to tell you, because it's a nature's phenomenon.
A couple of times this month I was out for a walk late at night (in Stockholm where I live), and looked at the sky... wow! that's beautiful - purple-grey-yellow, still dark and misty.
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