But here’s the good news: The time is right to get a glimpse of the aurora borealis. Thanks to longer hours of darkness and clear night skies, December through March is usually the best time to observe this elusive natural phenomenon (though you can sometimes see the northern lights starting as early as August ).
What are the best places to see the Northern Lights? Tromso, Norway. Based in the heart of the aurora zone in the Norwegian Arctic, the city is widely regarded as one of the world’s best places to see the Northern Lights. Swedish Lapland. Reykjavik, Iceland. Yukon, Canada. Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland. Ilulissat, Greenland.
Monitoring over many years the average chance of seeing the Northern Lights over a 4 night trip to Abisko is around 83%.
Northern Lights, Fairbanks, Alaska Fairbanks sits in the auroral oval, a ring-shaped area around the North Pole, and it’s one of the best places in the world to see the lights. They’re often visible from August to May, becoming more intense between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
When is Northern Lights season? There is no official season since the Northern Lights are almost always present, day and night. Caused by charged particles from the sun hitting atoms in Earth’s atmosphere and releasing photons, it’s a process that happens constantly.
When selecting a northern lights cruise, keep in mind that sailing along Norway’s three northernmost counties — Nordland, Troms and Finnmark — offer the greatest opportunities for viewing northern lights, both onboard the ship and during nighttime excursions ashore.
Evening tours run from 9 p.m. to about 4 a.m. and average $75 to $85 per person, while more extensive tours like the Northern Alaska fly/drive Arctic Circle viewing tour begins at $269 per person.
Northern Lights can be seen in the northern or southern hemisphere, in an irregularly shaped oval centred over each magnetic pole. The lights are known as ‘ Aurora borealis ‘ in the north and ‘ Aurora australis’ in the south. Areas that are not subject to ‘light pollution’ are the best places to watch for the lights.
“Active periods are typically about 30 minutes long, and occur every two hours, if the activity is high. The aurora is a sporadic phenomenon, occurring randomly for short periods or perhaps not at all.”
The Northern Lights are actually active all year round. But because they are only typically visible in the aurora zone between 65° and 72° North, they are not visible from April through August when the aurora zone experiences nearly 24 hours of daylight.
How long do the northern lights last? Anywhere from 10 minutes to all night long, depending on the magnitude of the incoming solar wind.
The aurora really does make sounds — and they appear to be generated in the air about 230 feet above the ground, according to a Finnish study that used an array of microphones to record and pinpoint the source of a weird surging hiss during a magnetic storm last September. The sound source was the open sky.”
Scotland remains the best place to see the northern lights in the UK, given its closer proximity to the North Pole. The most likely places to see the spectacle are the Scottish Highlands and Scottish Isles.
In the Arctic Circle, they are known as aurora borealis or the northern lights, while in the Antarctic Circle they are called aurora australis or the southern lights.
Particles and polar attraction As the particles pass through the Earth’s magnetic shield, they mingle with atoms and molecules of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements that result in the dazzling display of lights in the sky. The auroras in Earth’s Northern Hemisphere are called the aurora borealis.