All you need to know about the Aurora

All you need to know about the Aurora

Where it begins and where it ends

The sun, the moon and the stars belong to the eternal and predictable in the universe. On the other hand, the majestic Northern Lights – or Aurora Borealis – are elusive, changing and less predictable.

It is a phenomenon that occurs when the solar flares originating from the sun are more mighty than usual, and with the solar wind sending charged particles towards the Earth. When sun particles reach the Earths atmosphere and collide with Oxygen and Nitrogen, those atoms become overcharged, and the extra energy is emitted as a light that shines for a few seconds. To be able to see the Northern Lights, millions of small lights have to be released at the same time. That’s the exact reason why sometimes we see the Aurora in bright colours and some other times we barely can notice them.

The Northern Lights occur at the height of more than 100 km above the ground and may be observed in the night sky in a belt around the Magnetic North and South Pole. The lights in the northern hemisphere are called Aurora Borealis and the ones in southern Aurora Australis.

Where to see it

To improve the chance of Northern Lights sightings, you also need to avoid the light polution. Camp Tamok, a 75-minute inland drive from Tromsø, provides the optimal conditions.

The season for Aurora sightings

The Northern Lights are present year-round, but may only be observed when it is dark in Northern Norway, and that’s from the end of August till mid of April.

During the period from September till the end of March, we have plenty of hours of darkness. There is no set time to see the Aurora as the geomagnetic disturbance in the earth magnetic field is caused by solar flares, and they can occur any time! It’s best to go outside as soon as it’s dark and the sky is starry and stay out watching the sky as late as past midnight.

From mid-April, the amount of darkness each day reduces sharply, and from May 21 you can see the Midnight Sun in Tromsø. The contrasts are enormous in the Arctic. During summer above the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets, and it is light around the clock.