Seeing the Northern Lights

What is an Aurora really?

Auroras occur when highly charged electrons from the solar wind interact with elements in the earth’s atmosphere” The colour of the aurora depends on the specific type of atom that is hit by the solar winds. The reason why the Auroras ‘dance’ is that they move along the atmospheric currents and follow the magnetic poles, which are called the ‘auroral ovals’.

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The winter months are the holiday season, the time of magic, and seeing the Northern Lights is always pretty high on the average person’s bucket list. Normally to see the Aurora you need to go north, but it may not be as far north as you think. With some careful planning and a little bit of luck, here are a few places you can get to, to see the Northern Lights, without having to empty out your bank account in order to do it.

Yellowknife in Canada

Why not go to the ‘northern lights capital of the world’, located in the North West of Canada? All you need is a starry night and you could be in with a chance of seeing the Aurora. Plus Yellowknife is known as the ‘diamond capital of the world’ as well. So there is no shortage of swanky shops. Take a taxi or hire a car in Yellowknife to be in the city centre in no time at all.

Ivalo in Finland

A place of beautiful scenery and fascinating wilderness and the hometown of expert Aurora Hunter; Andy Keen, who has several years of experience photographing Auroras, Ivalo is a great place to see the Northern Lights. He’ll take you out in search of the Aurora for £150, and with his expert knowledge in tracking Auroras, this could be invaluable if you have your heart set on seeing the Aurora.

Shetland in the UK

Surprisingly enough there is an ‘Aurora spotting’ location right in the UK. With the right latitude and closer to Norway than bigger cities like London, Shetland gets much less light pollution, so hunting for the Aurora is easier than expected if the conditions are right.

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Unfortunately the Northern Lights are a random occurrence, and so are unpredictable. You may not be lucky in that they don’t happen to come out when you want. With this in mind it is sometimes better to go to your destination with several other things planned; ice skating or seeing an opera for example. Because if you book a holiday just to see the Aurora Borealis and the Aurora doesn’t turn up for one reason or another, you will feel like it’s a wasted trip.

So get out! See the world!

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