The Northern Lights Is More Than Just A Magical Sky

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Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are one of the most popular travel spectacles of the whole winter season. If you’re considering seeing the Northern Lights this winter, then you might want to confirm those plans – according to this article in the Telegraph newspaper, this year’s Northern Lights are slated to be the best in a decade, or perhaps more.

The Northern Lights are visible from locations all over the northern UK and Europe, which means that often times, picking the perfect spot to watch the Northern Lights is more difficult than actually seeing them.

Why Are The Northern Lights So Strong This Year?

Also known by their scientific name aurora borealis, the Northern Lights occur when gaseous particles in our planet’s atmosphere collide with charged “photons” emitted from the sun. This December a “solar flip,” a dramatic change in the sun’s cycle, will occur for the first time in 11 years, according to Stanford University expert Todd Hoeksema.

The result of this flip will be that more photons are emitted than at any point since the last flip, which occurred in 2001. It is thus natural to expect this winter’s Northern Lights to be the brightest in at least a decade.

Places to See the Northern Lights

The Norther Lights are visible in all of the world’s polar regions, from Siberian Russia, to Alaska, to Canada’s Arctic Territories and Greenland. For most Europeans and Brits, the most convenience places to see the Northern Lights are Iceland, northern Scandinavia (Lapland) and even the northernmost reaches of Scotland.

Generally speaking, the further north you can go, your better chance of having an amazing Northern Lights experience. Practically speaking, this means the Lapland region tends to be the best in Europe for viewing the Northern Lights.

Can You See the Northern Lights in Summer?

The Northern Lights tends to be the strongest at the end of the December, near the winter solstice. This has nothing to do with temperature and everything to do with light. The tilt of the Earth cloaks the northern reaches of the planet in near-total darkness, creating dramatic contrast between the night sky and the lights themselves.

With this in mind, it is not possible to see the Northern Lights during the summer months. Unless, of course, you travel to the Southern hemisphere to see the aurora australis, or Southern Lights, in June-August, i.e. the Southern winter.

Image credit: The UK Telegraph

Robert Schrader
Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who's been roaming the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as "CNNGo" and "Shanghaiist" along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, provides a mix of travel advice, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.
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