The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. The Sami people, the indigenous inhabitants of northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland, called the phenomenon the “Guovssahas,” or “the light which can be heard,” while the Vikings said it was the armor of ancient warriors. Today, the phenomenon attracts millions of tourists from across the world each year.
What Causes the Northern Lights?
Even now, experts still don’t have a complete understanding of all the processes that make up the effect. It was only in the 1950s that scientists theorized that electrons and protons blown from the upper atmosphere of the Sun could be interacting with the Earth’s magnetosphere to cause this. The variations in color are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding, which can produce yellows, greens, blues, purples, and reds. Because the phenomena occurs near the magnetic poles, the Northern Lights can seen as far south as New Orleans in the western hemisphere, though the phenomenon is best seen in northern Europe during the winter.
Where Can I See It
Scientifically speaking, to get the best view of the Northern Lights you want to go as far to the north as possible. However, most of these locations, like Svalbard, a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, or Nordkapp, the northernmost part of central Europe, are notoriously difficult to get to. There are also very remote locales, which means there’s very little to do for the average tourist. To make the most of your trip to Norway, we recommended visiting a location that offers a great view of the Northern Lights while also giving you a taste of what else the country can offer.
This makes Tromso, generally considered to be the northernmost city in the world, one of the best places to observe this natural phenomenon. Not only is it located right in the middle of the Aurora Borealis zone, but you’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Gallery of Contemporary Art as well as partake in a number of sporting activities like hiking, kayaking, and dog sledding while you’re there. As the Earth rotates, Tromso moves into the aurora zone around 6 pm, and moves out again around midnight. Because it’s light round throughout the day in the summer, e effect isn’t visible between late April and mid-August.
The Northern Lights are a great catalyst for coming to visit Norway, but once you’re there you’ll realize that there’s so much more to see. Take a look at some of the different itineraries outlined by Wexas Travel and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make the most of your trip.