Aurora Borealis

Admire the Northern Light.

Far from the city lights, you stand amidst the darkness, looking up at the sky. The northern lights dance across the firmament in marvellous colours, a firework created by nature itself. You are enjoying a view almost impossible to describe and an unforgettable experience.

The aurora borealis lights the sky over Lapland on up to 200 nights of the year, and on approximately one out of three nights in Rovaniemi. The best time to watch the northern lights is from September to late March. In summer, the sky is too bright for them to be discernible. Aurora borealis is best seen on a clear dark night, although its appearance is unpredictable and seeing it is never guaranteed. Sometimes, the lights flare up for a brief moment only, at other times a fortunate watcher may enjoy the spectacle for several hours. The best time to catch the northern lights is just before midnight, but this remains a matter of luck and no reliable forecasts can be given.

The Finnish word for the northern lights, revontulet, literally means “fox fire” and stems from the ancient belief that they are sparked by a fox sweeping the fells with its tail. The scientific term aurora borealis actually means “arctic dawn”.

What is the scientific explanation for the northern lights?

When particles from the sun enter the Earth’s magnetic field, they are directed into the atmosphere, usually within the auroral zones surrounding either magnetic pole. Colliding with the atoms of the atmosphere around 100 km above the ground, these particles are charged and emit a yellow-green light, coloured by oxygen and nitrogen. Strong eruptions may also cause red and violet lights. The aurora always follows the direction of the magnetic field and usually appears as a string of lights stretching from east to west.

Solar activity and solar winds give some indication as to the visibility of aurora borealis, since it tends to occur a few days after solar eruptions. However, such forecasts are always approximate and never entirely reliable. Ultimately, the northern lights are unpredictable, which adds to their enduring fascination.

What’s the best place for experimenting the northern lights?

A good place to experiment the northern lights should always be somewhere where there is no light polllution.So find a spot by the lake or river, look up, and hope for the best.

While You can go and experiment the aurora borealis at anytime, a wide selection of guided tours is also available. How about a reindeer sledge excursion under the stars? Or a snowshoe walk across the snowy dark forest? The local guides not only know the best places to experiment the aurora borealis, but can also tell many interesting tales of these peculiar lights in the sky and of course of the surrounging nature.