The Northern Lights
Scientific explanation of the phenomenon
The energy that produces the Northern Lights comes from the sun. The sun creates something called the "solar wind". It is different from the light we receive from the sun, which warms us and helps us see during the day.
This solar wind moves away from the sun through space and carries with it tiny particles called protons and electrons. When these particles are directed towards Earth, we can see the Northern Lights.
As the solar wind approaches the earth it causes a distortion in our magnetic field. While most particles are distracted from us, some manage to escape into our atmosphere around the magnetic poles. At this point, the "escaping" particles collide with the atoms and molecules that create the gases in our atmosphere and cause them to "get excited". This is a complicated business but essentially, when an "excited" atom or molecule begins to relax or return to their original state, they emit photon energy in the form of light.
Emissions of these photons on a huge scale are what make the Northern Lights appear in our night sky.
Beliefs and myths
Today we are watching the phenomenon and marveling at the infinite capabilities of nature and the energy operating inside and outside the Earth. Have you ever wondered what they thought of a phenomenon thousands of years ago? Before science and the ability to study the origin of the phenomenon, there were many beliefs and legends about the green lights. Some are driven by fear and some by inspiration. The Northern Lights have always been respected among the people of the North, but in the past also a good dose of fear.
Here are some of the myths and legends about Aurora Borealis that people tell.
Ancient Finns believed that the green lights appeared in the night sky as haunted spirits of the dead. In the north, the lights usually appear in light green to the naked eye. In Greenland for example, they imagine the souls of dead children playing in the sky.
The Sami had a belief that those who were murdered were still bleeding or even cutting themselves after death, causing curses in the sky. The indigenous peoples of Siberia and some Native American tribes believed that the dead rode horses or played in the sky, and from time to time that their blood was shed, and it caused the lights to appear. Other Native American tribes believed that the Northern Lights were an indication that the dead were so happy that they were dancing.
In rare cases where the Northern Lights are strong enough it usually appears in red and reaches Central Europe as well. No wonder the French, Italians and Greeks of yesteryear saw them as sure signs of bloodshed.
One of the more recent myths has to do with beliefs in Japanese and Chinese culture. According to which conception under the northern lights will win the child born in blessing and good luck.
All these of course are still within beliefs and myths, but undoubtedly for generations the Northern Lights have been considered a powerful and spectacular spectacle that cannot be forgotten.
When is it best to see and where can you see the Northern Lights?
The most ideal time to watch the Northern Lights begins in the fall. The end of August and September are great months for watching the northern lights, the dark nights begin, the sky is usually clear of clouds, and it is not so cold. It has all the right conditions for watching the Northern Lights. The most popular months for watching the Aurora are between December and the end of March - beginning of April. In December and January, the nights get longer and the days get shorter. There are not many hours of light, so this increases the chances of watching the sky glow. In February - early April, the day gets longer and the sun shines, but the sky becomes clearer and even then, the chances of watching the glow increase.
The Northern Lights can be seen in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and Canada. We are in the Arctic Circle in the northern part of Finland and deep within the Aurora region. The Northern Lights can be seen in many destinations in Lapland, the most central and popular being in the city of Rovaniemi. Rovaniemi is located at the beginning of the Arctic Circle. Winter temperatures are relatively mild compared to the more northern parts of Lapland. When there is solar activity and weather conditions allow it, chances are you can watch the Northern Lights from the city center as well.
Why take a private tour to watch the Northern Lights
In a private tour of the Northern Lights hunt, you guarantee yourself the best chance of watching the phenomenon. If you came to Lapland and did not rent a car your chances of watching the lights, go down. Tour organizers know exactly where to go and if the weather conditions are good. There are many places where you can watch the northern lights around Lapland. The wisdom is to know how to grab the right place at the right time. On a private tour there are a limited number of people, all eager to see the lights and will do anything to succeed. The guide can quickly identify if the weather at the selected location allows viewing the green lights or not and decide whether to stay or continue looking elsewhere. In a private tour the focus is very clear - you must see the northern lights!
And of course do not forget that the private guide comes with a professional camera for Northern Lights photography, so you can return home with a souvenir.
5 steps to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Lapland
1. Professional guide - a tour with an experienced local guide increases the chances of watching the Northern Lights. The guide is familiar with the phenomenon, knows all the good places to watch the lights and knows how to identify if the weather conditions change. The guide makes trips almost every evening and professionalism cannot be compromised.
2. Mobility - One of the most important factors is the option to be mobile. Many times, the Northern Lights are within touching distance but if you do not have how to get there by car you will probably not be able to see its beauty. Mobility allows for flexibility and displacement so if in one part of the city suburbs you do not see the northern lights and in the other part yes, you will be sure not to miss it.
3. Away from the light pollution- It is impossible to see the Northern Lights when there is light. Once you get out of the city and away from the light pollution towards the forests, lakes, and open spaces the chances increase.
4. Patience - The Northern Lights tours usually start around 20:00 in the evening and sometimes continue even after midnight. The simple reason for this is that it takes a lot of patience to see the lights. Sometimes the evening begins, and they do not appear in the sky but after an hour or even two hours, suddenly it happens and the sky turns green. Sometimes you can see the lights right away and sometimes patience is the key
5. Glass Igloo - Accommodation in a glass igloo is an experience, but it will also most of the time allow you to see the Northern Lights easily when you curl up in bed. The places where the igloos are located are far from the city center and in dark areas where northern lights can be easily observed. The igloo is made all or mostly from glass, so you can enjoy the warmth inside and wait to watch the lights with a glass of hot chocolate or wine. In addition, the igloo is equipped with a special system that alerts when the lights are observed in the sky so even if you fall asleep you will know when it happens.
In conclusion, watching the Northern Lights is a once in a lifetime experience that not many get. There are winters when solar activity is increased and the Northern Lights appear weekly and sometimes for several days in a row, and there are winters when it appears less. It is important to remember that this is a natural phenomenon and as much as it can be expected and organized in advance, it cannot always be seen. We hope that in addition to all the cool attractions you will experience on your trip to Lapland, you will also enjoy this amazing experience- of seeing the Northern lights.